Finland shuffles its hand

Neste Rally Finland (1 – 4 August) organisers have introduced subtle changes to a tried and tested format for this year’s high-speed spectacular amid the forests and lakes.

They have shuffled the order of several special stages and added a classic test to Saturday’s schedule as the WRC season resumes after its mid-season break.

One of the fastest and most iconic rallies on the calendar, the ninth round features 23 mostly gravel stages run across forest tracks centred around the city of Jyväskylä.

The action begins on Thursday night with the 2.31km mixed gravel and asphalt Harju stage in downtown Jyväskylä.

Friday’s route takes the crews into the forests to the west of the service park for 10 stages and 126.47 competitive kilometres.

The names of Friday’s stages are unchanged from last year, but the order has been shuffled. The morning begins with Oittila (19.34km), which was driven in 2018 after the evening service break.

Next up are four familiar stages from last year: Moksi (20.04km), Urria (12.28km), Ässämäki (12.33km) and Äänekoski (7.76km). All four are repeated in the afternoon before a second run through Harju.

Saturday contains the biggest changes. First up is a revamped version of Pihlajakoski (14.37km) which opens with 10km of brand new roads.

Next, drivers will head to the familiar Päijälä (22.68km) followed by a revamped Kakaristo (18.80km), which has a new start from the Rapsulantie road and includes many sections of the legendary Ouninpohja. Last driven in 1997, this new section is notorious for being the place where Markku Alén rolled his Lancia out of the lead in 1986.

The final stage is the 10.50km Leustu, which returns to Saturday’s itinerary in place of last year’s Tuohikotanen. All four stages are repeated in the afternoon after service in Jyväskylä.

Two stages run twice make up Sunday’s final day with a total of just 45.74 competitive kilometres.

The 11.75km Laukaa test returns after making its debut last year, followed by Ruuhimäki (11.12km). Both stages will run twice without a service with Ruuhimäki counting as the Wolf Power Stage.

Click here for full details of the 2019 itinerary.

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