01 - 03 Aug 13
Categories:WRC, WRC-2, WRC-3, JWRC
Most Recent Winner:Sebastien Loeb (2012)
Sisu is a Finnish word that loosely translates into English as ‘having guts’. On the flat-out, tree-lined straights, endless yumps and blind crests of Neste Oil Rally Finland, drivers will need plenty of ‘sisu’ if they are to stand a chance of winning one of the World Rally Championship’s most famous events.
Known affectionately as the Finnish Grand Prix, the rally turns the student city of Jyvaskyla into a motorsport Mecca on the first weekend of August as fans converge in their tens of thousands to savour the dramatic action on the compacted gravel stages and lap up the party atmosphere.
Few non-Finns have triumphed on the event due to the specialist nature of the stages with their endless series of twists, corners and jumps. Marcus Gronholm, a seven-time Neste Oil Rally Finland winner, famously said: “You need courage but the pace notes have to be perfect because they tell you where to place the car on the road before taking off flat-out over a blind crest. You have to have maximum trust and faith in your co-driver.”
When Sebastien Loeb won the event for his first time in 2008, the multiple world champion said he had never taken such huge risks to defeat Mikko Hirvonen and revealed prior to the 2010 rally that he would never do so again. However, Loeb won in both 2011 and 2012.
This year’s rally edges closer to a more traditional three-day event with increased competition during Thursday’s opening leg. After taking advantage of the long, light days to schedule practice and qualifying on Wednesday evening, the first day journeys south towards Lahti, welcoming back the Torittu test for the first time since the 1980s and Himos.
A second pass through Himos on the way back to Jyvaskyla will be a novelty as cars start the stage at 30 second intervals.
Friday is the longest day with more than 150km of action over familiar stages. However, all is not as it seems as the well-known Jukojarvi and Lankamaa tests are used in the opposite direction to last year.
The final day is packed with Finnish classics, including the awe-inspiring roller-coaster Ouninpohja, which many drivers rate as the WRC’s ultimate test of skill and bravery.
The 23 stages add up to 332.14km of fast and furious competition.