Monday | 24 Feb 2014

New look for Finland route

Only four of last year’s special stages remain in a new-look route for Rally Finland which features the return of a city centre test in Jyväskylä and a shortened version of the classic Ouninpohja stage.

The eighth round of the WRC, which takes place on 31 July - 3 August, retains a Thursday start but gains an extra day with a Sunday finish for the first time for several years.

Organisers have dropped the most southerly stages towards Lahti in favour of a focus on central Finland.

The curtain-raising super special stage at Killeri trotting track on the edge of the host city of Jyväskylä has also been left off the route. It will be replaced by the mixed surface Harju test, which uses city centre roads and was last used 16 years ago.

Harju is scheduled for both Thursday and Friday although confirmation of its place in the route has still to be finalised.

“Through the years there have been more requests for Harju’s return than for all other special stages put together,” explained assistant clerk of the course Kari Nuutinen. “It’s a dream test in the heart of the city.”

Ouninpohja signalled the end of Craig Breen's challenge in 2012

The roller-coaster Ouninpohja, regarded as the sport’s biggest test of skill and bravery, will be run on Friday in a shorter 20.50km format and called Kakaristo.

“Organising the long Ouninpohja has been a huge challenge and this change eases that task somewhat while still keeping the favourite sports,” added Nuutinen, who confirmed the popular Kakaristo junction will feature.

Sunday’s final leg brings a return of Ruuhimäki, previously used as the shakedown and qualifying stage, whose jumps near the finish are another fans’ favourite. The second pass here will form the Power Stage.

The 26 stages add up to more than 360km of action.