17 Jan 08
Organisers of Neste Oil Rally Finland, the ninth round of the WRC season, have confirmed a raft of changes to this year’s route, including dropping Ouninpohja - one of the most famous rally stages in the world championship.
Historically the longest stage of Rally Finland, the 33km smooth gravel route winds through dense forests, and is renowned for its sweeping corners, jumps and blind crests. With numerous flat-out sections, speeds on Ouninpohja have always been high, but the 130kph average set by Petter Solberg on his record breaking run in 2004 forced organisers to make changes. But despite taking steps to bring speeds down on subsequent years, it has been left out of the 2008 event.
Jarmo Mahonen, Managing Director of rally organiser AKK Sports said: “The matter was discussed with the FIA already last year, and at the time we were able to keep Ouninpohja as a part of our route. This year we have to leave it out for safety reasons”
Other changes to the route have been made necessary by the rally’s inclusion as a round of the Junior World Rally Championship (J-WRC) and Production Car World Rally Championship (P-WRC).
“We are happy that Finland is included in all three calendars - and our event is the only one this season, “said Mahonen. “Naturally, this had an immediate effect on the rally route "jigsaw puzzle". This year the durability of the roads is a main factor that needs to be taken into consideration when planning the route and there will be big changes as a result. The number of special stages will remain roughly the same as last year, but approximately half of the route itself will be new.”
The service park will again be located at the Jyväskylä Paviljonki, and all the services during the rally will take place there.
The 2008 rally will have a total special stage distance of approximately 350 kilometres - just 10 less than last year - but no further details of the route will be announced until land use permits have been approved. The final route and itinerary will be published in March.