Never has the FIA World Rally Championship journeyed as far north as Lapland, and Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox (26 - 28 February) will unveil some big surprises for rallying’s Arctic virgins.
Rovaniemi hosts the second round of the series. It is famously known as the home of Santa Claus (or Joulupukki as he is known to Finns) and a prime viewing location for the stunning Aurora Borealis displays – better known as the Northern Lights.
Following Friday morning’s shakedown, the rally starts mid-afternoon ahead of a double blast through the fast and often narrow Sarriojärvi (31.05km), north-east of the city, which features many tricky blind corners over crests.
Video: Arctic Rally Finland route
It’s the event’s longest speed test and the Arctic’s restricted daylight hours mean the second pass will be tougher still in darkness.
Saturday features a compact clockwise route south-east of Rovaniemi. Mustalampi (24.43km), Kaihuavaara (19.91km) and Siikakämä (27.68km) are driven twice. The loops are split by service and the second run through the final stage is in darkness. It adds up to 144.04km of action.
The opener runs over the top of a frozen swamp before ending with a spectacular charge through a driver training area. Kaihuavaara is fast with tricky narrow sections and Siikakämä is typical of the forest roads in the region.
Sunday’s finale comprises two runs of Aittajärvi (22.47km), south of Rovaniemi. The second visit counts as the Wolf Power Stage with bonus points up for grabs in all categories.
The 10 stages cover 251.08km in a total route of 856.05km ahead of the finish back in Rovaniemi.
• Full coverage from Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.