Organizer wants Arctic return – but not at all costs

Clerk of the course Kai Tarkiainen wants to bring the WRC back to the Arctic, but not in place of summer's Rally Finland


The Arctic Rally Finland organizer is ready to return its Rovaniemi-based round to the World Rally Championship calendar in the future – but not at the expense of the summer Rally Finland.

Arctic Rally Finland stepped in to fill a calendar gap at the end of February after Rally Sweden was ruled out by rising coronavirus numbers in December. A successful running of the Lapland event has piqued stakeholder interest in seeing the series return to Finland’s Arctic Circle in the future.

Clerk of the course Kai Tarkiainen told DirtFish: “The question of whether we will be back here [with the WRC] again is very much down to others. I wouldn’t mind doing it again and all the feedback we’ve had is from people saying they would like to see it happen again.

The one thing we won’t do is exchange this for Rally Finland in Jyväskylä – that’s where Finland’s rally roots and history are Kai Tarkiainen

“I know the local team would relish the opportunity to run a more conventional three-day WRC round with normal preparation time. Don’t forget, we had a lot of help from the local team here – there were only about 20 Rally Finland people in the whole team. They did a fantastic job and I think they deserve another chance.

“Whether they’ll get it or not, I don’t know. Obviously Sweden has the contract [for next season] and there are other events with winter ambitions; the WRC’s door is being knocked down by events trying to get in.

“Lots of people were talking in Rovaniemi about a second winter round of the season and, when you look at the work Pirelli does in preparing a specific tire for one round, as well as the testing and the work the teams do, maybe a second winter rally is a good idea.

“The one thing we won’t do is exchange this for Rally Finland in Jyväskylä – that’s where Finland’s rally roots and history are and always will be. As well as that, the commercial side of Rally Finland in [Jyväskylä] is stronger – it could be difficult to try to get the tens of thousands of fans we see in the summer into stages in and around Rovaniemi.”

One concern ahead of Arctic Rally Finland was the length of stages and potential impact on the rally if one of those tests became blocked by a competing car stuck between snowbanks. The loss of one of Friday’s two stages, for example, would have cost 20% of the total event mileage.

“That was something which I was thinking about before the start,” said Tarkiainen.

“Luck was with us and as well as that, I think everybody drove really well to the conditions. In the end we only had one stage stopped – and that was only for 11 minutes, From a rally control point of view, dare I say it, it was fairly uneventful.

“One of the reasons we went with these longer stages is because it’s the nature of how events run in Lapland. And, don’t forget, a lot of our medical crews are coming from the emergency services college and they couldn’t get here until Friday night.

“I take my hat off to those guys, they travelled through Friday night and pretty much went straight to the stages on Saturday morning, then went through Sunday night after the finish and straight back into school. It was an incredible effort.”