If 70 really is the new 60, then this particular Nordic septuagenarian is particularly attractive. Rally Finland celebrates its 70th anniversary with a new made-for-fall route and plenty to keep the fans and crews on their feet.
The Jyväskylä-based event was forced to shift to October from its usual summer date in order to enhance the opportunities to bring spectators back to what remains one of the most popular stops on the World Rally Championship tour.
With less daylight, the organizers of the event made some adjustments to an event which will now run over three instead of four days – Thursday night has been dropped and shakedown moves to Friday (October 1) morning.
The 178-mile, 19-stage route will be the shortest in the history of Finland in this format.
Clerk of the course Kai Tarkiainen explained the thinking.
“We’re very pleased to announce the route of the 70th anniversary Rally Finland. It has been designed to fit completely the new autumn date and the team behind it has worked very hard to meet all the needs set out by the stakeholders and the expectations of the fans,” he said.
“Although we’re running over three days rather than four, we’ve ensured there will be as many stages and competitive kilometers as possible.
“Like we do every year, we have made several changes to the itinerary to keep things fresh and fun. The route has been completed in line with national and regional restrictions introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and can be modified at short notice, should any changes be necessary.
“Running the event without fans isn’t something we can do so we are all hopeful the continued rollout of the vaccination program and all the other steps being taken will ensure the rally goes ahead as planned and we remain confident this will be the case.”
Only three stages – Harju, Laukaa and Ruuhimäki – remain unchanged from 2019.
The route in detail
Day one: Friday 1st October
Stages: 6 (SS1-6)
Stage distance: 55.56 miles
Shakedown is up first on Friday October 1, utilizing the same Vesala stage from 2019 but run in the opposite direction. Following the start at the Paviljonki in Jyväskylä, the legendary Harju city stage, the rally’s shortest at 1.43 miles, opens proceedings at 1:30pm.
Crews head southwest of Jyväskylä for two runs through Ässämäki (7.64 miles, SS2/SS4), which was used in the opposite direction in 2019, scheduled either side of the first pass of Sahloinen-Moksi (13.27 miles). Following a tire fitting zone and remote refuel in Petäjävesi, a second visit to Sahloinen-Moksi (SS5), which includes sections unused since 2010, is scheduled from 6:06pm. The Oittila test (SS6) east of Päijänne completes the 55.56 miles of leg one and this 12.27-mile stage runs in the dark.
Day two: Saturday 2nd October
Stages: 9 (SS7-15)
Stage distance: 94.42 miles
Leg two, located south of Jyväskylä and the longest of the rally, is made up of four stages either side of service at the Paviljonki followed by a return to the Harju street stage at 8pm.
The day begins with the first of two passes of the 11.27-mile Kakaristo-Hassi stage (SS7/SS11) from 0816. Featuring sections of the iconic Ouninpohja stage, Kakaristo-Hassi gets a new start and finish with the latter last used in 2011.
Päijälä (SS8/SS12) ran to a similar layout in 2016 and covers 14.04 miles. Sections of the new 8.38-mile Arvaja test (SS9/SS13) date back to 1994. Patajoki (SS10/SS14) is another new stage, although parts of the 12.76-mile run through narrow and technical forestry roads, appeared on the itinerary between 2002 and 2010 as part of the familiar Vaheri and Himos stages.
Day three: Sunday 3rd October
Stages: 4 (SS16-19)
Stage distance: 28.42 miles
The final day takes crews north of Jyväskylä for the 7.30-mile Laukaa test (SS16/SS18) with the second run of Ruuhimäki (SS17/SS19) forming the points-paying Wolf Power Stage. Located east of the hosty city, Ruuhimäki is 6.91 miles in length and finishes at the spectacular Laukaa-Arena where the rostrum ceremony will be held.
Rally Finland itinerary
Friday 1st October
Shakedown Vesala (2.51 miles) 0801
SS1 Harju 1 (1.44 miles) 1330
SS2 Ässämäki 1 (7.65 miles) 1428
SS3 Sahloinen-Moksi 1 (13.28 miles) 1518
SS4 Ässämäki 2 (7.65 miles) 1708
SS5 Sahloinen-Moksi 2 (12.38 miles) 1758
SS6 Oittila (12.27 miles) 1900
Service Paviljonki 2015
Saturday 2nd October
Service Paviljonki 0643
SS7 Kakaristo-Hassi 1 (11.29 miles) 0816
SS8 Päijälä 1 (14.05 miles) 0914
SS9 Arvaja 1 (8.38 miles) 1038
SS10 Patajoki 1 (12.77 miles) 1128
Service Paviljonki 1328
SS11 Kakaristo-Hassi 2 (11.29 miles) 1516
SS12 Päijälä 2 (14.05 miles) 1614
SS13 Arvaja 2 (8.38 miles) 1738
SS14 Patajoki 2 (12.77 miles) 1828
SS15 Harju 2 (1.44 miles) 2000
Service Paviljonki 2030
Sunday 3rd October
Service Paviljonki 0727
SS16 Laukaa 1 (7.30 miles) 0835
SS17 Ruuhimäki 1 (6.91 miles) 0938
SS18 Laukaa 2 (7.30 miles) 1101
SS19 Ruuhimäki 2 (6.91 miles) 1318