Neste Rally Finland ŠKODA works driver Kalle Rovanperä aims for home victory in WRC 2 Pro

› Driving a ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo, Finnish rising star Kalle Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen chase fourth season win in a row in WRC 2 Pro category
› Last year’s WRC 2 winners Eerik Pietarinen/Juhana Raitanen are nominated to score points in the WRC 2 Pro category by ŠKODA Motorsport
› The target of ŠKODA Motorsport in Finland: Taking outright lead in the WRC 2 Pro manufacturer’s classification of the FIA World Rally Championship 2019

Mladá Boleslav, 30 July 2019 – After powering the new ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo to two WRC 2 Pro category wins in a row – plus winning Rally Chile with the predecessor model –, Kalle Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen (FIN/FIN) can hardly wait to start Neste Rally Finland (01-04/08/2019). Understandably, his home game in front of ten thousands of compatriots is something very special for 18 years old Rovanperä. Last year, he was clearly the fastest driver of the field of R5 competitors, but a technical mishap eventually relegated him to fourth place. Instead, ŠKODA privateers Eerik Pietarinen/Juhana Raitanen were the WRC 2 winners. Now they are aiming for a top result again, for the second time nominated to score points in the WRC 2 Pro category by ŠKODA Motorsport.

During his first Neste Rally Finland back in 2018, Kalle Rovanperä was 16 times the fastest WRC 2 driver on the 23 special stages. But a suspension issue did cost him a possible win. This year, the current leader of the championship’s WRC 2 Pro category wants to settle the bill with his home event. “I love to drive this fast and smooth gravel stages in my home country. We had good tests before the rally and the setup of our ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo works very well. I feel confident with the car, and that is very important on these fantastic stages,” emphasizes Rovanperä.

ŠKODA Motorsport boss Michal Hrabánek said: “We know, that Kalle and Eerik are really fast. Now they have to be as well cool and smart in front of their home crowd in Finland. I hope, they will provide ŠKODA Motorsport with the points we need to take the outright lead in the manufacturer’s standings of the WRC 2 Pro championship.”
In the WRC 2 category for private teams, French ŠKODA crew Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais lately showed a remarkable performance on gravel by winning the class in Portugal and Italy/Sardinia. With a good result from Finland, they even could move into the overall lead of the WRC 2 championship. 

First rally of a customer team with the new ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo
Two weeks before Neste Rally Finland, Eerik Pietarinen’s team boss Toni Gardemeister in Mladá Boleslav picked up the very first ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo delivered to a customer. In Finland Pietarinen will drive the car for the first time. “I have good memories of my victory last year, and I cannot wait to drive the new FABIA,” is the young Finn looking forward to the upcoming ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship 2019.

Legendary challenge with numerous jumps on gravel
Neste Rally Finland offers 23 special stages totalling more than 307 kilometres mostly on fast and smooth gravel roads. A unique feature are the countless jumps – some passages really resemble a roller coaster. Due to the high-speed passages, the Finnish round of the FIA World Rally Championship 2019 unofficially carries the subtitle “Finnish Gravel Grand Prix”. After kicking off on Thursday evening with a Super Special Stage “Harju” in the streets of Jyväskylä close to the service park, the Friday leg will run over ten special stages of around 126 kilometres. The longest day of the rally will be the Saturday with eight special stages totalling nearly 133 kilometres. Like last year, Sunday will bring the final decision with four stages. The winners will reach the podium in Jyväskylä around 16h00 local time.

Did you know, that…
…the event first took place in 1951 under the name “Jyväskilän Suurajot”?
…the event was called the “Rally of the Thousand Lakes” from 1959 to 1996, before it was re-named Rally Finland, today additionally carrying the name of sponsor Neste?
…in 1973 the “Rally of the Thousand Lakes” was included into the calendar of the then new World Rally Championship?
…the biggest jump ever allegedly was achieved in 1975 by former rally cross driver Jusso Kynsilehto, who with legendary British motoring journalist Martin Holmes on the co-driver’s seat flew 72 metres? Unfortunately, there was no road on the car’s landing point and they rolled four times.
…the rally ending Power Stage, the eleven kilometres of “Ruuhimäki”, according to the event organizers, will have a real flying finish with a so called “monster jump”?
…Finnish drivers won 55 out of the so far 68 editions of their home round?

The calendar of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2 Pro)
Monte-Carlo 24/01/–27/01/2019
Sweden 14/02/–17/02/2019
Mexico 07/03/–10/03/2019
France  28/03/–31/03/2019
Argentina 25/04/–28/04/2019
Chile 09/05/–12/05/2019
Portugal 30/05/–02/06/2019
Italy 13/06/–16/06/2019
Finland 01/08/–04/08/2019
Germany 22/08/–25/08/2019
Turkey 12/09/–15/09/2019
Great Britain 03/10/–06/10/2019
Spain 24/10/–27/10/2019
Australia 14/11/–17/11/2019

Additional info