The Rally Finland weekend is up and running. With shakedown completed, World Rally Championship crews will be making their final preparations for a first day at full speed between the trees of the gravel grand prix since 2019.
This year’s edition might be the shortest in the history of Rally Finland in this format, but that’s not to say day one has no familiarity – with a blend of roads either returning to the schedule or seen on the most recent running of the event, albeit in the opposite direction.
Here’s an overview of the four stages that make up the six-stage opening day.
SS1 Harju (1.44 miles)
A great addition to Friday lunchtime in Jyväskylä. This all-asphalt, spectator-pleasing stage through the center of the city returned to the itinerary in 2014 and remains a popular loosener for the woods to come.
The route hasn’t changed and neither have the curbs, which still sit in wait to catch out the unwary.
SS2/4 Ässämäki (7.65 miles)
The first of the loop of gravel stages to the west of Jyväskylä. This is the first time the current generation of cars have been used on these roads – and the first time this stage has run in this direction.
It was last used, in the opposite direction, in 2016. For the most part this stage is technical and quite twisty, but still with a good average speed. There’s one short link between two narrow roads which is double-width.
Ässämäki will provide an immediate test of everybody’s ability to make new notes.
SS3/5 Sahloinen-Moksi (13.28 miles)
Much of this stage is the Moksi test from 2019, but run in the opposite direction. The Sahloinen section at the beginning hasn’t been used since the 1990s – but it should become more familiar from a third of the way through.
This stage is marked for its constant tempo and pace changes. The final section is going to be a real thriller of a rollercoaster ride, with plenty of corners over crests offering the chance of those fabulous Finland-only ballistic-with-attitude pictures.
SS6 Oittila (12.27 miles)
Dark for some, dusk for others. Oittila is the only stage on the itinerary not to be repeated – but like the two proceeding it, it’s reversed in direction from the last time.
Much of the first section made up the 2017 powerstage (and ran in the same direction as this week). The only difference is a new section that comes via a square right onto a smaller road – this change comes to keep the cars off one of the fastest sections of stage. The approach back onto the old road is interesting: downhill, bumpy and hard to keep the car on the line under braking.
The road from there until the finish has never been used in this configuration.