Last week DirtFish ran a feature on the 10 fastest rallies in World Rally Championship history. Rally Finland occupied nine of those slots.
But there was one question which remained unanswered: as this year’s new Rally1 cars make their debut on the world championship’s fastest rally, where will 2022 slot onto that top 10 list?
Hyundai’s Oliver Solberg suspects he knows the answer. It’s going straight to number one, ahead of Kris Meeke’s 78.68mph record from 2016 that somehow managed to weather the final generation of WRC cars attacking it.
“From the event at least you can expect a much higher speed than ever, I think,” Solberg told DirtFish. “The roads are crazy fast; average speed will be very high.”
High? As in the highest ever?
“I think so,” he replied. “The top speed on the cars is quite good and it’s flat for a long, long time. The first few stages of the rally are the two fastest ones, almost. It will be very fast.”
More flat-out sections are also reason for hope in the Hyundai camp. Right now its i20 N Rally1 isn’t able to match the rather dominant Toyotas across the board.
But there is one metric that Solberg believes his Hyundai has an edge in Finland.
“I think we have a bit more [top speed] than the others,” he said. “I think we’re 10kph [6mph] more than the other two. So maybe that can help us here.”
Solbergs are known for being fast on these roads. There is unlikely to be a WRC fan anywhere in the world that hasn’t watched Petter’s onboard from Ouninpohja in 2004, where he set a new record time aboard his Subaru Impreza S10 WRC.
You’ve probably not watched it as many times as Oliver, though: “A hundred [times] at least. At home, we sit watching it. With Phil [Mills]’s voice and passion and together with my dad driving, it’s so cool to watch.”
There’s still no Ouninpohja this year, so no chance for the younger Solberg to emulate his world champion father. But he is excited to have some sections of classic Finnish road back on the itinerary.
“Now you have some of the classic ones. Lankamaa and all this,” he said. “So it feels a bit more like a classic Rally Finland than it did last year.
“Today we have more shorter stages but at least you have more stages, more classic parts which are more flowing, let’s say. It’s still a fantastic event.”