WRC is preparing for the start as series heads to Finland

It may have a new name, but for many it will always be the 1,000 Lakes Rally, or officially the 1,000 Lakes Rally, a name first used in 1973 when the event was added to the rally calendar in its first year. World Championship was recorded.

Whatever the name, this iconic rally is known for its smooth and very tough roads with enormous blind knolls (yumps to everyone in the rallying world) and very high average speeds.

It came to be known as the Finnish Grand Prix, and that’s true because 12 of the 14 fastest WRC rallies took place on these roads. In fact, Northern Irishman Kris Meeke won the fastest WRC rally ever, the 2016 event with an average speed of 126.62 km / h, with Meeke becoming the first British driver to claim victory in Finland. His co-driver at that event was Paul Nagle, who now sits next to Craig Breen.

Thierry Neuville with co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe needs a good finish to keep his World Cup hopes alive. Image: Hyundai Motorsport

First held in 1951, it was the event where Finnish participants were selected for the Monte Carlo Rally and was dominated by local drivers who have won 55 of the 69 rallies that have been held to date.

With its high speeds and the need for pinpoint accuracy as well as the fast, consistent provision of pacenotes, it must be considered one of the most demanding events for co-drivers and requires a lot of courage and commitment from the drivers.

Last year canceled due to the pandemic, the 2021 event, the 70NS The anniversary of the rally has been moved from the normal summer to autumn and is more compact, runs over just three days instead of the usual four.

WRC goes to Finland
Gus Greensmith and Chris Patterson will collect additional points for the M-Sport Ford WRT. Image: M-Sport

The change of season could bring wet weather and these slippery roads could lose grip and other sections could get a lot rougher, a real challenge for the team strategists.

The 43 participants have to face a 287.11 km special stage of the 1,059.64 km long rally with a central service park in the center of Jyväskyläs Paviljonki Exhibition Center.

This Friday morning’s shakedown stage precedes the official start and the first special stage, a Harju road stage with mixed surfaces in the center of Jyväskylä, before heading west for another five stages in the woods before an overnight stay.

WRC goes to Finland
Kalle Rovanpera and Jonne Halttunen are hungry for a third win in 2021. Image: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

After the restart on Saturday morning, the teams face another nine stages, which comprise more than half of the competition distance of the rally, before the last four stages including the Wolf Power Stage on Sunday.

With only three rallies left in the season, the current team to beat is Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT (397 points), which is currently 57 points ahead of the Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT (340 points) and the one with 153 points M-Sport Ford WRT.

On home territory, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT puts the usual team around championship leader Sébastien Ogier (180 points) on, with co-driver Julien Ingrassia a comfortable lead over teammates Elfyn Evans (136 points) and co-driver Scott Martin with the third team from Kalle Rovanperä (129 points) with Jonne Halttunen on the side.

WRC goes to Finland
Looking for a hat trick from the Finnish victories Ott Tanak and Martin Jarveoja. Image: Hyundai Motorsport

The young Finn has two victories in his luggage this season and is sure to be hungry for a hat trick to secure second place in the drivers’ title hunt, while Ogier hopes to emulate his 2013 result with his Volkswagen Polo to victory in Finland. Takamoto Katsuta (66 points) is celebrating a comeback with another new co-pilot, Aaron Johnston

In search of really solid results, the Hyundai crews of Thierry Neuville (130 points) with co-drivers Martijn Wydaeghe, Ott Tanak (106 points) and co-drivers Martin Järveoja and Craig Breen (60 points) will be a really impressive team with Paul Nagle.

Perhaps Neuville will reverse the outcome of his battle with Ogier in Finland when the Belgian finished second behind the French in the 2013 Ford Fiesta RS. Tanak has the distinct advantage of having won the last two Finnish rallies in 2018 and 2019 and has to be a strong favorite.

WRC goes to Finland
Adrien Fourmaux with his new co-driver Alexandre Coria will have to adapt quickly to tackle Finland’s high-speed roads. Image: M-Sport

M-Sport Ford WRT will form the field with the usual two teams. The Englishman Gus Greensmith (44 points) with co-driver Chris Patterson and his team-mate Adrien Fourmaux (36 points) and his new co-driver Alexandre Coria. The team’s young driver system seems to be paying off in the 2021 season.

Finland always delivers exciting rallies and the season change could add another dimension to the “Finnish Grand Prix”.

About Veronica Richards

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