Most Rally Finland fans recognize the stage name Hassi. All the roads in the image below have been driven on a stage called Hassi, totaling in at almost 100 km
What makes this special? I cannot come up with another Rally Finland stage title that has such a vast road network attached to it. For example Vaheri, Surkee and Parkkola have about 50 kms of road from all the different versions, but that’s only a half of the network Hassi holds under its moniker.
Many classic stages like Myhinpää, Ruuhimäki or Savo are built around a certain part of road. There may be shorter or longer versions, direction changes or detours to other roads, but the main part needs to be there or the stage title is in for a revision. In the case of Hassi, there is no such “core road”. The Hassi versions of 1985, 1991 and 1992 versions do not share any road between them!
What could be closest to a core road is Hassintie forming the basis of 1982 – 1984, 1988, 1989, 1990 and 2011 versions. It is a firm surfaced and wide road with lots of height differences and bends over crests, like a combination of Okskulmantie and Ouninpohjantie, the two main roads of Ouninpohja. In fact, usually the last (first in 1994 and 2016) kilometre of Ouninpohja is driven on Hassintie and, but there’s a lot of other interesting places on it, like the infamous corner below the power line.
For the versions between 1992 and 1995 Hassi was taken out from Hassintie, comprising now of the well-surfaced Arvajanreitintie and the smaller forest road of Kilpijärventie. The former is where Colin McRae had his second roll in 1992, whereas the latter provided some unexpected bumps for Auriol in 1993 (9:17 on the video below). That 1993 version was actually a 36 km monster combined from two stages of 1992.
2011 Rally Finland had Hassi replacing Ouninpohja because of road repairs on Okskulmantie. That resulted in an interesting stage combining the fast roads of Hassintie and Juuvantie with the narrow and technical Konivuorentie. The duality of the stage is well present in this onboard of Hirvonen setting the fastest time. First he’s sliding and jumping among big crowds, then negotiating through the narrow bends with virtually no one watching, as the spectators weren’t allowed to go to Konivuorentie. It seems almost adventurous to drive all alone that narrow forest road over a small mountain and through narrow farmyards. I must have watched this onboard ten times this year.
The last time we saw the Hassi name on the itinerary before the aforementioned 2011 version was 1995, which was the first year Ouninpohja was driven in its current form. In 1996 and 1997 Hassintie featured on the Rapsula stage, but for the most part Hassintie and Kilpijärventie have been in testing use for the WRC teams, sometimes even surprising even very experienced drivers.
Having both Ouninpohja and some form of Hassi next to each other would block spectator access or most likely cause traffic jams. For the organizers to choose between the two, it’s hard not to argue in favour of Ouninpohja given its popularity and status as “the best stage in the WRC season”.
This year Ouninpohja had three chicanes and still the winning average speed was 135 km/h on the second run. Next year there shouldn’t be any chicanes, so Ouninpohja is about to be restructured. Maybe some of these roads could supply a good alternative? After all, the stage we know as Ouninpohja is for the most part just one path on this 100 km network of great roads, so why not try another path for a change?