The Red Bull Skoda driver will hold an 11-point lead of the Super 2000 World Rally Championship when his home event takes place in Jyvaskyla.
“It’s a very special rally,” said Hanninen, who will turn 30 later this month. “The speed is the big thing but every year I remember more and more places where I can go flat out. There are some places that are so crazy with the huge jumps that they are hard to describe them in the right way in your pace notes. But the more experience you have, the faster you can drive.”
Co-driven by Mikko Markkula, Hanninen has topped Class N4 on the event for the past two seasons but admits this year’s rally takes on greater significance.
“For the last two years it hasn’t been so crucial to me because I haven’t been fighting for a championship,” said the Punkaharju-born driver. “This year I really have to think about the championship. Everyone is expecting I am winning the rally again and, of course, I will try but it won’t be easy against drivers like Ott Tanak, who will be very fast. I don’t have any other goal than to win but I know I have to get a perfect weekend to do it.”
Despite the weight of expectation on his shoulders, Hanninen insists he isn’t feeling any extra pressure.
“We will see when the rally is coming closer but at the moment I am not feeling any extra pressure,” he said. “People were expecting I would win all the rallies in the WRC this year but I didn’t do it and it’s the same attitude now when I go to Finland. The competition is at a good level and when you go to the rally you cannot make any mistake. It’s a big challenge for me but there is no pressure. Having zero points would be a big, big loss for the championship so I really need to try to get the 25 points.”