Average speeds of 120kph, landings over jumps measuring 60 metres, tree-lined straights and blind crests combine to make round eight of the 13-event WRC season the most spectacular and hardest to master. Indeed, since the advent of the world championship in 1973, only three non-Nordic drivers have triumphed on the high-speed tests around the university city of Jyvaskyla in central Finland.
This year’s event features 18 special stages over a competitive distance of 303.52 kilometres. Following Wednesday evening’s Qualifying Stage - used to determine the running order among the WRC’s elite on day one - Thursday’s route takes crews on the long trek south to Lahti for two stages - Koukunmaa and Jokimaa - before the return to Jyvaskyla for service and the overnight halt via the new Mynnila test, the longest of the day at 14.22 kilometres.
Friday’s action begins at 07:42hrs local time with the Urria stage followed in quick succession by Jukojarvi, another Rally Finland regular. After service in Jyvaskyla, drivers embark on two runs of Mokkipera and Palsankyla - back on the itinerary after a handful of years away - and the familiar Lankamaa stage separated by service in Jyvaskyla. The day’s competitive action draws to a close at the Killeri trotting track for the traditional superspecial stage at 20:00hrs local time.
Saturday’s route is based around the Jamsa region and consists of two passes of Surkee and Leustu either side of service in Jyvaskyla prior to the return of the fearsome Ouninpohja stage, a 33.01-kilometre monster that remains the stuff of Rally Finland legend. And to add further spice, the second run of Ouninpohja, at 18:00hrs local time, counts as the event-closing Power Stage where bonus points are up for grabs for the fastest three drivers.
Next page: So who’s going to win?