Tuesday | 22 Mar 2016

New stages and 'jabs' for Finland

The organisers of Neste Rally Finland are the latest to announce details of their 2016 event, including a 43 per cent new route and a number of short and sharp 'jab' stages to break up extended liaison sections.

The Finnish round is the eighth of the season and will run from 28 - 31 July from host city Jyväskylä. On the itinerary are 24 stages that total 334 kilometres in a total route of 1371 kilometres.

All mid-day services will be held in Jyväskylä thanks to the introduction of competitive 'jabs' that enable to route to stretch further and take in new locations.

"We change the directions of the route slightly from year to year in order to keep the rally interesting for the competitors," said Deputy Clerk of the Course Kari Nuutinen. "It works out well for the local residents too, because this way some villages and other actors involved in the event can take a breather once in a while and enjoy the rally as spectators, and in other years they can again be active in making a rally event in their own village."

The rally kicks off on Thursday night with the Harju city stage in the heart of Jyväskylä. On Friday the route heads west towards Keuruu, for the classic forest challenges Mökkiperä and Jukojärvi. Between them will be the first jab - a new 6.75km test called Halinen. The Surkee and Horkka stages will follow before the midpoint service. The second jab of the day, the 7.4km Äänekoski-Valtra stage next to the town of Äänekoski, will be driven en route from service to the afternoon’s stages. After Äänekoski-Valtra, competitors will repeat Mökkiperä, Jukojärvi, Surkee and Horkka before a final visit to the Harju city stage.

Saturday will take the crews south to the Jämsä region. First up is the 33km Ouninpohja, the event's signature stage, followed by Päijälä and then Pihlajakoski, which is likely to be the fastest stage in the entire rally. En route to Jyväskylä for the mid-day service, crews will tackle a second jab stage - a 4.4km spectator-friendly test in the village of Saalahti. All four stages will be repeated in the afternoon.

Sunday's route extends south east of Jyväskylä into areas that have not seen rally cars this millennium. The morning begins with Lempää, a stage last driven in 1999, and then Oittila, last driven in 1994 when it was called Mutanen. Lempää is repeated after a regroup before the the second pass of Oittila - described by organisers as 'like the entire rally in miniature scale' - which counts as the rally closing live TV Power Stage.

Click here to see the 2016 route on a map.