Moksi, Leustu, Moksi-Leustu, Sahloinen, Surkee, Parkkola, Vellipohja, Painaa, Horkka…familiar names for a Rally Finland follower. They are all located in an area South-West from Jyväskylä limited roughly by the main roads E63, 607 and 604. I shall call it the Moksi region in this blog post. Throughout the years it has served the rally a number of different stages that are all connected to each other. Let’s look at the maps and how the stages have progressed throughout the years and which roads were used on which particular stages or reused elsewhere.
Cover image by Kyn Wai Chung / Flickr
In the 70’s The 1000 Lakes Rally had a very broad route. It would go around lake Päijänne, up North to Seinäjoki or East to Savonlinna. This also meant that not many stages were driven near Jyväskylä. Combining this with the fact that the opening stages were typically Laajavuori, Humalamäki, Urria, Ehikki and Ouninpohja, the route usually went past the Moksi Region which was thus rather quiet rallying wise until 1981.
For the 1981 1000 Lakes Rally, two stages were added from the Moksi region.
Kuusanmäki was an 11-kilometre stage near Muurame. It started on quite wide roads and ended on narrower but fast private roads with lots of bends and jumps. Also, the stage contained a total of six junctions, not so common for stages of the era.
Meanwhile, Sahloinen was a fast narrow forest road ending to a gravel pit. It had been actually included already in the 1977 route. While Kuusanmäki typically opened the second leg, Sahloinen would often be the second to last in the whole rally, when the crews returned to Jyväskylä. For 1982 the beginning of Sahloinen was stretched a bit longer up to 7 kilometres.
In 1983 Kuusanmäki was made longer by extending it to Korpiahontie. Today it is a tarmac road, but most likely not already by then.
After a short liaison on Korpiahontie the drivers came across the start of a new stage, Painaa. It had two especially spectacular jumps, the Visala jump on the wide Hirvimäentie and the “landfill” jump on narrower Leustuntie.
In 1984 Painaa was extended to start on Salovuorentie and Toimelantie, which would form a basis for a number of stages for years to come.
The infamous landfill jump, which was actually at a junction where a road to a nearby landfill started, was always popular with photographers, shown here in the 1984 rally at 6:26
In 1984 Kuusanmäki was split into two, shortening the beginning part into a 3.38 km stage with the old name while the ending made up a 6 km stage Moksi, starting at Moksintie.
In the 1985 rally there was no more Kuusanmäki. Instead, a new stage called Pöykky was introduced. It was basically just one private road, Pöykyntie, from its end to another. Being firm and fast but quite narrow and loaded with bends and jumps, Pöykyntie would feature in the rally as a part of various stages for decades to come.
Moksi from the previous year was now dubbed Korpiaho, whereas Painaa and Sahloinen remained mostly the same.
This video starts with some action from Pöykky and Painaa. The new Pöykky stage caused instant trouble for Hannu Mikkola who hit the rear wheel of his Sport Quattro into a log on the side of the road.
For 1986 Pöykky was extended heavily. The stage got 8 kilometres of new roads. First a tight junction onto a super wide and firm Petäjävedentie for a few kilometres, then a longer streak on narrow and twisty Mäkeläntie and finally a bit more of wider and firmer road of Varrasperäntie. Again, this combination of roads – especially the three first ones – would form the basis for a number of stages in the future.
Korpiaho was reversed and now called again Moksi like in 1984, but this time it was shortened a bit from the end. Painaa and Sahloinen were again the same as before.
The 1987 1000 Lakes Rally is known for its small roads and chicanes. Pöykky from 1986 was considered slow enough to be retained, but Painaa, Sahloinen and Korpiaho/Moksi were benched. Instead, two new stages were created.
Tuohikotanen contained the very narrow road of Tuohikotasentie, some very tight junctions and other roads never driven before, ending where Painaa had started the year before.
Leustu started from the medium wide private road of Hoikanpohjantie (which was already run as Niemiaho in 1975), continued onto wider state road for a while, before continuing onto smaller private roads again, joining finally the Painaa route from 1986 at Leustuntie.
This time, the stage extended further. Where Painaa would be close to its finish, Leustu continued into a tight junction, which was also always popular with photographers. This place is particularly remembered for Juha Kankkunen’s 1987 spin when his Lancia’s gearbox refused to select the reverse gear.
This video shows the aforementioned incident, as well as the cars on both Pöykky (20:32) and Leustu (20:41) stages
All of Pöykky, Leustu and Tuohikotanen were run twice. Leustu would change for the following years, but this sequence of roads would return in 2001 as a part of the 40 kilometres of Moksi-Leustu.
For the 1988 edition of 1000 Lakes Rally, Korpiaho returned from 1985 as it was, being that way as the Saturday opener until 1990 and then retiring for good.
Leustu was reworked, combining now parts from the 1986 Painaa and 1987 Tuohikotanen with the previous year’s version, adding almost 8 kms of never before driven roads at the end. This would be a staple stage for years to come, changing only slightly over the years.
This video shows some fast jumps on the wide road of Hirvimäentie.
Leustu ended the rally of Ari Vatanen, as the steering of his BMW M3 broke in the jumps and Ari went off the road into a tree. This video at 2:08 shows him first at the landfill jump, and then the wrecked car a bit later.
For 1988 the Pöykky stage was reversed and given a new beginning near the village of Parkkola, hence the new name. The beginning of the stage on Pekanmäentie was full of fast bends and jumps.
SS29 had a familiar name, Moksi, but it didn’t have anything in common with the similarly titled stage from 1986. Instead, it was just Hoikanpohjantie, driven partially as a part of Leustu in 1987, from end to end.
Just kilometres after Moksi ended, a new stage would be introduced. Surkee started with the small road loop around lake Surkee that many Rally Finland fans from the recent year are familiar with, but between 1988 and 2007 it was never driven. After this small road loop the stage turned right onto Koirasalmentie, after which it joined the Parkkola route from the day before. Surkee would remain as the Saturday night closer driven in the darkness for years to come.
With Parkkola, Korpiaho, Leustu, Moksi and Surkee, this was the highest number of different stages run on the Moksi region in one rally.
For 1989 Leustu and Korpiaho remained the same, but Surkee was tweaked a bit, leaving out the small road loop of lake Surkee and starting instead on Moksintie. Parkkola was skipped in favor of another stage, Vesala, while Moksi was benched as the route approached Surkee from a different direction.
This video shows the cars at the left junction in the middle of Korpiaho (8:22). The text on the screen claims the next footage is from Leustu, but it’s actually from Vaheri.
For 1990 a new version of Parkkola was introduced for the new opening leg on Thursday, consisting only of big wide roads, starting at Parkkola and ending near the Surkee lake loop junction. The beginning of Surkee was tweaked a bit, starting at Koirasalmentie and joining Parkkola for a while for the only twice driven section of the rally.
Sahloinen made a comeback after three years of absence. Now it had some big state road added at the end. Meanwhile, Leustu and Korpiaho stayed as they were. This made it again a high number of five stages from the Moksi region in the rally itinerary.
This video shows the Leustu stage from 1990. It’s from the Saakoski area, with a right junction, over a bridge, a straight acceleration and another right junction. Again, very popular with spectators and photographers.
For 1991 Parkkola was replaced with Moksi, starting with the same road as in 1988 but in the opposite direction and continuing to a bigger road of Hirvimäentie, ending with some spectacular S-bends.
This video shows the Moksi stage near the end of Hoikanpohjantie, just before turning into the big road of Hirvimäentie
Korpiaho was now retired, but Leustu got a new beginning. The start was moved more East and the stage didn’t go anymore through Tuohikotasentie. A part of the stage was now run in reversed direction. This change made the stage considerably faster, as the winning average speeds got up from 105 km/h to 114 km/h. This version would have a long life in the rally.
Markku Alen was fooled by the new beginning of Leustu in the recce. He had written the pace notes according to the old version, but didn’t luckily lose too much time. Meanwhile, Ari Vatanen was caught by the very final left corner, rolling his Sierra by its nose, shown on the video at 37:03 (before that there’s also footage from the Saakoski area on Leustu).
Sahloinen was shortened a bit, but Surkee remained the same, being the rally decider, when Carlos Sainz crashed his Toyota in the darkness on Koirasalmentie.
This video shows the cars near the end of Sahloinen of the stage where they jumped across the county line, where Ruoppaantie becomes Sahloistentie.
For 1992 there was a new version of Parkkola, now extending southwards to tricky small forest roads, pumping the length up to 22.48 km. Leustu and Surkee retained as the opener and closer of Saturday.
This video shows the “Parkkola junction” from Varrasperäntie to Moksintie, another popular place for the photographers for years to come.
Parkkola was retained the same for 1993, except it was now driven on Friday night instead of Thursday.
Sahloinen was the same both years, having received a new section of roads at the end through the actual village of Sahloinen, making it now 12.32 kms long.
Parkkola and Leustu remained again as they were, except that the road lines on Leustu were reconstructed a bit, removing the “landfill” jump from the route, as it became a gravel pit.
Meanwhile, Surkee was lengthened by adding all of Sahloinen and an additional forest road in the beginning, producing a 37.31 km marathon stage driven in the dark.
1995 was a non-WRC event as every rally had to take turns hosting only the F2 cup. Tommi Mäkinen and Juha Kankkunen chose to enter the rally for fun and testing purposes. This video shows Mäkinen on the beginning jumps of SS2 Parkkola. Kankkunen never got that far as his front suspension collapsed already on the first stage.
Parkkola was now made the opener of Saturday, leaving out Leustu. There was no Surkee either, but the second run of Parkkola on the final day morning had Sahloinen combined to it, making it extend to 33.43 km.
Driving the small roads of Parkkola twice was not a good idea, as many group N cars suffered punctures. Thus, for 1997 Parkkola was driven only once in the longer form, being actually the rally opener and also the last time the road from the Sahloinen stage was included in the rally. Meanwhile, Leustu got returned to the Saturday opening slot, staying there until 1999.
For 1998 Parkkola was made again resemble the 1988 version, or the ending of Surkee of previous years. Meanwhile, Surkee itself drew inspiration from the 1989 and 1995 versions, with the first 300m acceleration never driven before. It shared the last 16 km again with Parkkola just like ten years before. However, this would be the last time Surkee was driven in this format, through Koirasalmentie.
The 1999 Rally Finland opened with Parkkola in almost the same form as 1990, with no smaller forest roads at all and not even the opening junction. This resulted in a winning average speed of 135 km/h, from the to-be-rally-winner Juha Kankkunen. At that point it was the highest average speed ever seen in the rally.
Not aiming to break more average speed records, Parkkola was changed back over to resemble the Surkee route of previous years, but now reversed to the direction used last in the 1987 Pöykky. The average speed of this stage was now again under 120 km/h.
Leustu was not anymore the Saturday opener but it was driven twice. Meanwhile, the small roads that used to be a part of Parkkola between 1992 and 1997 were now driven as their own stage, titled Moksi. That makes it now three different stages called Moksi with no road shared between them (1986, 1991 and 2000).
However, the organizers must have had a bulb light up on their heads having seen Moksi and Leustu next to each other on the itinerary…
The longest Rally Finland stage in decades was introduced in the 40 km form of Moksi-Leustu. Like hinted before, it was basically a combination of 2000 Moksi and the ending of Leustu, connected by the Leustu version from 1987.
Moksi-Leustu was spared for the closing day of the rally, whereas the normal form of Leustu was driven the day before. Moksi-Leustu would become a staple of the 2000’s Rally Finland, being driven every year between 2001 and 2006 always exactly the same way.
On the video below we can see Harri Rovanperä retiring from the lead of Rally Finland 2002 after a puncture on Moksi-Leustu destroyed the whole front wheel.
In 2001 Parkkola was reversed again to the direction used on the Surkee stages, but it ended now before Pöykyntie, being only 15 kms long.
For 2002 there was only a single run of Moksi-Leustu on Saturday, no Parkkola or other stages on the Moksi region. For 2003 Parkkola returned in the 2000 format, starting from Pöykyntie, being driven twice on Sunday.
In 2004 Parkkola ended where the 1999 version started, making the stage now shorter. The stage became infamous for the crash of Ari Laivola on Pöykyntie, where some spectators got injured. Obviously, the stage is not to blame, but this would be the last time a stage called Parkkola was driven in the rally.
The trend of long stages started by Moksi-Leustu continued with experiments of Vaheri-Himos. In 2005 another new such stage was introduced into the Moksi region, in the form of Vellipohja, with also roads driven never before, but also being almost like a compilation stage of the Moksi region, at 33 kilometres of length.
The stage started where Leustu traditionally started on Salovuorentie. Then it turned left onto Tuohikotasentie and back northwards on Toimelantie, driven previously as a part of Painaa and Leustu but in the opposite direction, continuing over to the old Leustu beginning on Salovuorentie. Thus, parts of Salovuorentie were driven in two opposing directions.
To avoid making a loop, the stage made a tight hairpin left turn to Mäntyläntie, starting a section of never before driven roads, extending to the tarmac of Korpiahontie, the jumps of Papinvuorentie and the bends of Vellipohjantie. Then the stage joined the last half of Moksi from 1986 (or the first half of Korpiaho in reverse) before turning left onto never before driven roads again. First some fast state road of Moksintie, then a technical section of private road called Mansikkamäentie, and again wide state road of Petäjävedentie with a fast downhill right hander.
The stage would pass the Pöykyntie junction, joining the Parkkola route from the year before, but ending a bit earlier. For 2006 it was extended a bit longer, making it now 36 kilometres long.
Vellipohja became notorious in 2005 for the big jumps on Papinvuorentie that were new to everyone. Marcus Grönholm jumped so hard that his co-driver Timo Rautiainen fractured vertebrae and couldn’t speak at all for the remainer of the stage, as seen on this video in 14:58. At 15:29 we can see the turn onto the tarmac section of Korpiahontie.
Having the long Vellipohja and Moksi-Leustu in the rally meant that there were rallying on over 70 kms of road on the Moksi region in 2005 and 2006.
For 2007 Moksi-Leustu was not run anymore, making a return for the Leustu stage. At 21 kms, it was now driven through a shorter route in the middle, which was used before on Painaa stages of the mid 80’s.
Vellipohja was also shortened to start at Papinvuorentie, and changed to end at Pöykyntie. The length would be only 17 kms. Vellipohja was the opening forest stage of the rally, giving everyone a surprise when young Jari-Matti Latvala set the fastest time and became the rally leader, only to have a time-consuming spin on the following stage.
Surkee made a comeback, starting with the lake Surkee loop last used in 1988, but in reverse. After that the stage continued East and then North on the path of fast roads used on Parkkola before turning right onto the smaller road of Mäkeläntie. Instead of continuing onto Pöykyntie, the ending contained a short bit of never before driven state road on Petäjävedentie Northwards.
Surkee in this 15 km format would become a staple in the rally. It was also often the slowest of the forest stages, having an average speed of 108 km/h in 2007, whereas faster stages like Urria, Ouninpohja and Ehikki were around 130 km/h.
For 2008 the stages remained the same, with Surkee getting also a second run. Also, a new stage called Hirvimäki was added, consisting mostly of the small roads driven as a part of Parkkola in the 90’s and as a part of Moksi-Leustu in the 2000’s, to the opposite direction. However, the first 3 kms of Hirvimäki were never before driven.
Vellipohja and Hirvimäki were dropped for 2009, leaving just Surkee and Leustu represent the Moksi region for the years 2009-2012. In those years the route of the rally experimented with new directions, going further East or Southwards, reducing the importance of the Jämsä area stages.
The Visala jump on the beginning of the fast Hirvimäentie on Leustu became a spectator favourite especially after this infamous jump by Evgeni Novikov in 2009.
Below onboard is from Leustu 2010, one of the last times it was driven in its classic format, as Leustu was reversed for 2012.
A lengthened version of Surkee was driven in 2010, with a start near the Sahloinen village through a never driven before road, Koiramäentie, and more of the fast Moksintie. This made the stage 19 kilometres long. The year after the start returned to that of the previous year, but the ending was now Southwards on Petäjävedentie.
For 2012 the stage was reversed to the direction driven as Pöykky in 1986-1987 or as Parkkola 2000 and 2003. This must have been confusing to newer drivers, as Evgeni Novikov had trouble deciding which way to turn at the “Parkkola junction” where Varrasperäntie meets Moksintie. Apparently he would have wanted to go to the Moksi-Leustu direction, but no stage has ever turned that way in that junction in the history of Rally Finland or 1000 Lakes Rally. The incident is shown here at 29:24, preceded by some footage from the start of the stage.
For 2013 the stage name Painaa was returned. However, the actual stage was very different from the Painaa stages from the mid 80’s. In fact, the stage had more in common with Tuohikotanen from 1987, sharing the start. But at Tuohikotasentie junction the stage joined Vellipohja from 2006, continuing instead Northwards on Toimelantie, ending finally on the bends on the fields on Mäntyläntie.
Painaa was also driven as a power stage. On the first run Mads Østberg did some cutting on the final bends and for the power stage run, cutting was forbidden.
Since the Eastern part of Leustu was now occupied by Painaa, Leustu had to be shortened and ended in the same place as Painaa in 1986, but coming from the other direction and of course driving from the “wrong” side of the triangle junction, making it a small bit of never before driven road.
The same stages remained for 2014, but Leustu was lenghtened from the beginning by a couple of hundreds of meters to a road never driven before.
For 2015 Painaa and Leustu were dropped while a new stage title Horkka was introduced. Curiously, it contained absolutely no new roads and actually the name as well had been on the itinerary in the early 60’s.
Horkka started on Hirvimäentie one kilometre before the Hoikanpohjantie junction. This bit of road was driven in reverse in 1991 as a part of the Moksi stage. After that the stage continued onto the Moksi-Leustu route until the Leustuntie junction, where the stage turned back towards Hirvimäentie, joining now the route of the reversed 2012 Leustu. The ending of the stage was shared with 2013-2014 Painaa with the hairpin left onto Mäntyläntie and the ending on the field bends.
Horkka was driven twice, as was Surkee. The second run of Horkka would end Robert Kubica’s rally near the very end of the stage.
The exact same stages retained for 2016, when the reigning world champion Sebastien Ogier became a victim of Surkee, letting the front of his VW Polo fall in to a ditch turning to the small road loop of lake Surkee.
These two stages also caused spins for Craig Breen and Ott Tänak, the latter also suffering a puncture in Surkee.
Quite surprisingly, there were absolutely no stages driven on the Moksi region in 2017. All of the Friday stages were driven North from Petäjävesi and all the Saturday stages South from Jämsä.
It’s questionable what the future holds, but as Rally Finland should have slower stages next year, the Moksi region has plenty to offer. Stages like Surkee (2016), Painaa (2014) and Leustu (2014) with their slower average speeds could make a comeback. Also, Vellipohja (2008) would be a nice stage with lots of junctions and technical road, but if we want to make absolutely sure the average speeds are low, let’s go for Hirvimäki (2008) or Tuohikotanen (1987).
The Moksi area returned boldly onto the route of the revised 2018 edition of Rally Finland with no less than a stage bearing the Moksi title! With a closer look, it’s actually a combination of Vellipohja and Surkee stages, making up a challenging 20 km stage alternating constantly between slower and faster roads.
Another returning stage title with a route combined from previous stages was Tuohikotanen, which became one of the shortest forest stages of the rally, but still a tricky one, packed with junctions and technical roads familiar from the Leustu, Painaa, Horkka and Vellipohja stages. The Title Tuohikotanen itself hadn’t been used since 1987, but that stage had little shared sections in the same direction as the 2018 one.
Longest possible stage?
There are a number of stages on the Moksi region that have been merged into each other and combined to make long stages in various combinations. It tempts to create the longest possible stage using only roads used actually in Rally Finland. This stage is 105 kilometres long, let’s call it Leustu-Vellipohja-Surkee-Sahloinen-Moksi. It has no artificial combinations or junction turns, it’s all made by glueing together parts from actual stages. Only the Sahloinen part from the Surkee end to the Moksi-Leustu start has never been driven in this direction. However, this stage probably would need a mid-stage refuel and tyre change…
Some of the Moksi region stages and roads have been used in local rallies providing more available onboards whereas there’s a quite limited amount of official WRC onboards.
Römminpohja – Jyväskylän Suurajot 2014. The route of Vellipohja in reverse from Mansikkamäentie to Moksintie, then continuing as Korpiaho from Hankapohjantie to the finish.
Moksi – Jyväskylän Suurajot 2014. Reversed partial of Moksi-Leustu, starting at Hirvimäentie and concluding with all of Hoikanpohjantie.
Hirvimäki – Jyväskylän Suurajot 2014. The small road part of Parkkola 1992-1997 or the beginning of Moksi-Leustu reversed, or most of Hirvimäki 2008, with one of the two small road loops omitted.
Moksi – Riihivuori ralli 2017. Starting on Moksintie from East to West, joining the Surkee 1988 route but ending before Petäjävedentie. Roughly 30 kilometres of amazing roads.
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