Neste Rally Finland
|Neste Rally Finland|
|Stages:||23 (317,26 km)|
- Smooth and blisteringly fast gravel roads, buried among forests and lakes, are characterised by massive stomach-churning jumps.
- Rally starts on Thursday night with exciting mixed-surface Harju street stage in front of big crowds in central Jyväskylä.
- Drivers head west on Friday to sample many new roads in tests including Moksi, Urria, Ässämäki and Äänekoski - all of which are driven twice.
- Saturday is the ‘meat’ of the event, with almost 143km of relentless action spanning nearly 16 hours on roads south-west of the rally base, near Jämsa. The new Kakaristo test features roads from the legendary Ouninpohja.
- Sunday’s finale heads east for two runs at two classic tests – Laukaa and the big jumps of Ruuhimäki.
- In the absence of the full-length Ouninpohja, we’re going for Sunday’s live TV Power Stage in Ruuhimäki. Driven as the shakedown stage in recent years, it is back in the rally for 2018 and organisers have added some new sections to the classic parts.
- A mix of hard, wide roads with narrower more technical sections.
- Flat out from start to finish. It is affectionately known as the Finnish Grand Prix and 11 of the 12 fastest WRC rallies have been here.
- Pace notes must be perfect. Blind crests often hide corners and it’s vital to position the car correctly before take-off to ensure maximum speed through the bend.
- Speeds are so high that time differences are small and there is little opportunity to regain vital seconds after a mistake.
- One of the hardest rallies for co-drivers as high speeds demand a constant, pinpoint accurate delivery of pace notes.
- Mastering the jumps. If the speed is too high, the car’s aerodynamics will force the back down and the front will rise. The tactic is to brake before take-off and accelerate full throttle over the jump.
- Gravel suspension.
- Packed gravel roads mean soft compound tyres are the usual choice, but hard compound rubber is also available.
- Super-smooth stages mean cars can be prepared in the knowledge that mechanical issues are rare.
- Dates back to 1951 when it was launched as a means of deciding the Finnish entries for Rallye Monte-Carlo.
- It took on the name 1000 Lakes Rally and was included in the calendar for the WRC in its first year in 1973.
- It has been dominated by Finnish drivers who have won 55 of the 67 editions. Top of the roll of honour are Hannu Mikkola and Marcus Grönholm with seven wins.
- The 2016 edition was the fastest rally in WRC history. Kris Meeke won at an average speed of 126.62kph.
What’s new for 2018
- Plenty. Almost 40 per cent of the roads have not been driven in the rally previously and nearly 65 per cent is new compared with 12 months ago.
- Of the 23 stages, Saturday’s double run through Pihlajakoski is the only test unchanged from last year.
- New stages include Ässämäki while Äänekoski and Laukaa will be used in the opposite direction to 2017.
- Visit Kakaristo hairpin on Saturday to enjoy great action and a brilliant atmosphere. For many years part of the legendary Ouninpohja, the junction is the focal point of the new Kakaristo test. Craig Breen knows the sweeping bend leading into this junction only too well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2biL_8EK2os
- Finland is all about jumps and they don’t come much bigger than Urria.
- Or maybe they do…Ruuhimäki is the place to go on Sunday. It is famous for its sequence of big wide road yumps near the end, but this year’s test closes with what organisers promise is a ‘monster of a jump’. It promises to put a whole new meaning to the ‘flying finish’!
- The party atmosphere. Jyväskylä is the ultimate rally town and no visit would be complete without a night out in one of the many bars in the main street. Drinks are not cheap though…