Thursday | 19 Mar 2015

Tough opening leg in Finland

Almost half of Neste Oil Rally Finland (30 July - 2 August) will be driven without service as organisers toughen the route for round eight of the WRC.

Drivers face more than 157km of flat-out action in Friday’s opening leg with no opportunity for mechanics to work on the cars from the time they leave Jyväskylä’s service park in the morning until they return at night after nine special stages.

The legendary roller-coaster Ouninpohja stage returns during the demanding leg, as the biggest change in an itinerary which shows minor updates from last year.

Ouninpohja, full of flat-out blind crests and regarded as the sport’s ultimate test of bravery and commitment, will be driven twice in its full-length 34.39km version to include the Yellow House Jump and the fan-favourite Kakaristo hairpin.

Assistant clerk of the course Kari Nuutinen said the views of fans, competitors and stage organisers last year played a crucial part in planning the 2015 event.

“Our goal was to make a perfect route with minimal changes. For example, the feedback from the competitors was that last year’s route was probably the best ever,” he said.

Crowds will pack Jyväskylä's service park

The action opens on Thursday night with the Harju test in the streets of Jyväskylä before Friday’s gruelling leg, which also includes the Himos ski slopes. Avoiding mistakes will be crucial as a tyre fitting zone will be the only ‘down time’ in the day.

Saturday’s eight stages cover 130.68km west of Jyväskylä. A double loop includes classics such as Mökkiperä and Jukojärvi, which has been updated, and the new Horkka test which blends roads previously used in other stages.

Sunday’s final leg features just two passes over the fast and demanding roads of the famous Myhinpää. The second run forms the live TV Power Stage with bonus points for the fastest three drivers.

The 20 stages cover 319.38km in a route of 1270.83km and you can see the itinerary here.