30 Jul 09
Rally Finland, one of the classic events of the FIA World Rally Championship, will have a place in the series until 2014 under the terms of a new agreement announced today by WRC promoters, ISC.
The new five-year deal runs from 2010 and is the first long-term agreement brokered by ISC and the organisers of a World Championship rally.
First run in 1951, Rally Finland has become one of the championship's most prestigious events with its commercial and organisational standards setting the benchmark for WRC rallies worldwide.
As well as being a favourite with competitors, hundreds of thousands of spectators watch the action from the stages each year and ISC hopes that a long term deal will enable the event to become even stronger and more successful. Organisers are now expected to begin work on a new hotel complex in the Service Park, as well as a brand new Super Special stage.
ISC expects to sign a number of the WRC’s major events to long term deals in the coming months as it seeks to strengthen the championship and help make it more attractive for fans, competitors, sponsors and its growing global TV and internet audience. As with Formula One, however, the final sign-off of the WRC calendar rests with the FIA World Motor Sport Council.
ISC Chairman Neil Duncanson said: “There is no doubt that Rally Finland represents the very best of the WRC - but we want to give them the opportunity to grow still further and in turn encourage other events to aspire to their extraordinarily high quality levels.”
Jarmo Mahonen, Neste Oil Rally Finland Promoter, added: “We are delighted to have agreed this extended relationship with the WRC. Rallying is integral to all Finnish motorsport fans and we have produced many heroes of the sport in the past, which we wish to continue to do in the future.
“Having an ongoing relationship with the WRC will help us plan and deliver bigger and better events year on year for both the hundreds of thousands of fans here in Finland, and the millions more watching worldwide.”
The leader of the drivers' championship, Finland's Mikko Hirvonen, was one of the first to give his reaction to the deal. "This is the best rally in the world there is - they've certainly made a good choice!" he said.