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A selection of stories that are making the news in the WRC ahead of Neste Oil Rally Finland
Pedal to the metal: Not for nothing is this rally known as the fastest round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon, [above left] has the word ‘flat’ written in his pace notes a remarkable 1090 times for the four-day event. For Paddon’s co-driver John Kennard, [above right] Finland is like a home away from home. Not only is it the biggest export market for his winery business in New Zealand, it’s also he spends his time between the European WRC events with his Finnish partner Satu.
Fresh Fiesta for Finland: M-Sport’s Mikko Hirvonen, 34 today, will be driving a newly built Ford Fiesta RS WRC this weekend, the first new car built for the official team since 2012. The engine and gearbox are the only reused items, having been on Hirvonen’s car at Poland an event which M-Sport paired with the Finnish encounter for technical parts.
In the pink: Finland’s Kristian Sohlberg is carrying a pink livery on his Ford Fiesta R5 to help raise awareness of cancer research and his friend Elina Jouhki’s battle to overcome leukaemia. Jouhki is a Finnish triathlete who has twice beaten cancer but is now fighting the disease for a third time. So far the Sohlberg-backed #teamelinajouhki campaign has raised more than 30,000 euros for the Finnish Red Cross and research organisations. He hopes the total will reach 50,000 euros by the end of the year. Visit kristiansohlberg.com for details.
Rendina switch: Leaders of the WRC2 Production Cup Max Rendina and co-driver Mario Pizzuti will swap seats in their Mitsubishi Lancer in Finland. Pizzuti is the registered driver of a new BAS Motorsport entry, while Rendina is listed as co-driver. In reality the pair are expected to share driving duties on the stages so Rendina can get experience of the rally, which does not form part of his seven round campaign. And, with only one more opportunity for Rendina to score points this season, the new team could prevent points going to his championship rival Juan Carlos Alonso…
Historic Harju. The return of the Jyvaskyla-based Harju stage after a 16-year absence will be marked by a high-speed convoy of historic rally cars. Ten cars that helped to make Harju history over the years will drive the stage on Thursday night, shortly before WRC crews tackle it from 2030hrs. The cars range from the Mercedes-Benz 220 S that Rauno Aaltonen used to win the 1000 Lakes Rally in 1961 to a Mitsubishi Galant VR4 that was piloted back in the mid-1990s by Lasse Lampi.