Rally Finland is back in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). After a COVID-19 related break last year, the “Finnish Gravel Grand Prix” is the tenth round of the 2021 season. The ultra-fast tracks in the vicinity of Jyväskylä were always a proving ground for young talented Finnish drivers. 2015 and 2016, ŠKODA Motorsport factory driver Esapekka Lappi won the WRC2 category, Jari Huttunen and Eerik Pietarinen, both competing with privately entered ŠKODA FABIA, won the category the following two years. 2019, the winner of the WRC2 PRO category was ŠKODA Motorsport’s shooting star Kalle Rovanperä, while the Russian talent Nikolay Gryazin (ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo) broke the Finnish dominance by winning the WRC2 category for private drivers the same year.
This year, the focus of the ŠKODA fans lies on WRC3, the category for strictly private drivers. Locals Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen (ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo) had a difficult time in the 2021 WRC3 season. But Emil Lindholm, as brand ambassador supported by ŠKODA Finland, found fresh motivation by finishing the category third at the recent Acropolis Rally Greece at the wheel of the Toksport WRT run ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo. On their home event, they will face tough opposition from their compatriots and brand colleagues Teemu Asunmaa/Marko Salminen and Mikko Heikkilä/Topi Luhtinen. Although his only appearance at Rally Finland is already seven years ago, Pepe López also wants to compete for the top positions. The young Spaniard, sharing Rallye Team Spain’s ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo with co-driver Borja Odriozola, aims to improve his seventh position in the current WRC3 points standings. Among the 27 Rally2 cars on the entry list, 13 crews rely on the Rally2 version of the FABIA, making ŠKODA again the most popular brand in this class.
Rally Finland offers 19 special stages totalling roughly 287 kilometres. In the hilly woodlands around Jyväskylä, numerous jumps present the drivers with a real challenge. After the opening Super Special Stage on Friday in the streets close to the rally centre in Jyväskylä, the leg will run over six special stages covering 89 kilometres. The longest day of the rally will be the Saturday with nine stages totalling nearly 152 kilometres. Sunday will bring the final decision with four stages, before the winner is expected on the podium at around 4h15 pm local time.
Did you know, that…
…the event first took place in 1951 under the name “Jyväskylän Suurajot”, translating roughly to “Grand Prix of Jyväskylä”?
…the event was called “Rally of the Thousand Lakes” from 1959 to 1996, before it was re-named again to Rally Finland?
…in 1973 the “Rally of the Thousand Lakes” was one of the founding events for the World Rally Championship for Manufacturers?
…the biggest jump ever was achieved 1975 by former rallycross driver Jussi Kynsilehto, who (with legendary British motoring journalist Martin Holmes as co-driver) allegedly flew for 72 metres?
…Finnish drivers so far won 55 out of the 69 editions of their home event?
Top-3 overall WRC2/Drivers (before Rally Finland)
1. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, 126 points
2. Marco Bulacia (BOL), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, 104 points
3. Mads Østberg (NOR), Citroën C3 Rally2, 96 points
Top-3 overall WRC2/Teams (before Rally Finland)
1. Toksport WRT (ŠKODA), 211 points
2. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team, 131 points
3. Movisport, 125 points
Top-3 overall WRC3/Drivers (before Rally Finland)
1. Yohan Rossel (FRA), Citroën C3 Rally2, 127 points
2. Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, 112 points
3. Nicolas Ciamin (FRA), Citroën C3 Rally2, 57 points
2021 FIA World Rally Championship
Rallye Monte-Carlo, 21 – 24 January
Arctic Rally Finland powered by CapitalBox, 25 – 28 February
Rally Croatia, 22 – 25 April
Vodafone Rally Portugal, 20 – 23 May
Rally Italia Sardegna, 3 – 6 June
Safari Rally Kenya, 24 – 27 June
Rally Estonia, 15 – 18 July
Renties Ypres Rally Belgium, 13 – 15 August
Rally Acropolis Greece, 9 – 12 September
Rally Finland, 1 – 3 October
RallyRACC Rally de España, 14 – 17 October
Rally Monza, 19 –21 November