The route of Rally Finland 2018 was revealed today, and it looks awesome. I will write later about it in greater detail but here’s a short run through the route, and presentation of the many new parts of it.
EDIT: I have now written a proper review, read it here
A lot of the route is new from last year. In fact, only two stages, Harju and Pihlajakoski, remain unchanged from last year. Gone are Lankamaa, Saalahti, Lempää and Jukojärvi.
8:00 Shakedown Vesala 4,26 km
19:00 SS 1 Harju 1 2,31 km
8:18 SS 2 Moksi 1 20,04 km
9:21 SS 3 Urria 1 12,28 km
10:13 SS 4 Ässämäki 1 12,33 km
11:36 SS 5 Äänekoski 1 7,71 km
14:24 SS 6 Oittila 19,34 km
15:27 SS 7 Moksi 2 20,04 km
16:30 SS 8 Urria 2 12,28 km
17:22 SS 9 Ässämäki 2 12,33 km
18:45 SS 10 Äänekoski 2 7,71 km
20:00 SS 11 Harju 2 2,31 km
8:13 SS 12 Päijälä 1 23,92 km
9:29 SS 13 Pihlajakoski 1 14,90 km
10:38 SS 14 Kakaristo 1 23,66 km
12:13 SS 15 Tuohikotanen 1 8,95 km
14:55 SS 16 Tuohikotanen 2 8,95 km
16:08 SS 17 Kakaristo 2 23,66 km
17:36 SS 18 Päijälä 2 23,92 km
18:54 SS 19 Pihlajakoski 2 14,90 km
8:38 SS 20 Laukaa 1 11,74 km
9:38 SS 21 Ruuhimäki 11,12 km
11:01 SS 22 Laukaa 2 11,74 km
13:18 SS 23 Ruuhimäki 2 (Power Stage) 11,12 km
As Ruuhimäki is now the power stage, there needs to be a new shakedown. It’s supposedly at Vesala, which has been a stage in the rally in 1989 and 1990. Some of those roads have been also driven in the local 1000 Lakes Rally in 2012 and 2014, it could be the start of this video .
Harju is again the sole super special of the rally, driven both on Thursday and Friday nights. In my opinion it’s the best super special of the season, a stage with long history and little artificiality.
The Friday last year had repeated stages within loops. This year it’s back to the repeated loops format, but the route of the loops is interesting with little in common with last year.
The rally kicks of with 20 km of Moksi, a familiar name from the past. Effectively, this is the Surkee stage from the recent years with the start from Mansikkamäentie, a smallish road driven on the Vellipohja stages.
Urria has bits of new small road in the beginning and in the end, to keep the average speed of the stage in control. The fast part is still there with the classic big jumps.
Ässämäki is basically Halinen, reversed, with new road added at the end. Äänekoski is also the same as last year but reversed.
The second loop begins with crossing the bridge over lake Päijänne to drive a revamped Oittila. It has now about 8 km of new small road ending with a kilometre long wide straight into a tight hairpin junction where it joins the ending of last year’s stage. But it doesn’t stop where last year’s champagne was sprayed, instead it continues onwards like on the version from the late 80’s and early 90’s, ending where last year’s start was, making it 19 km long in total.
Saturday opens with Päijälä, which has been changed. The start is the same as last year, but now it turns East from the small road loop into a direction last driven in 2003. It will be a very demanding stage with lots of different roads. It’s also the longest stage of the rally at 23.92 km.
Pihlajakoski is the only gravel stage which remains similar from last year. I was suspecting the ending of it would be too fast, but maybe the triangle junction chicane is preserved.
The biggest change of course, like expected, is that there is no Ouninpohja. But don’t worry, many legendary roads, jumps and corners are still included in the stage Kakaristo. Unfortunately no Ouninpohjantie at all, so no yellow house jump, but Sokolov’s corner and the Amazon jump, and of course the Kakaristo area remains. And most amazingly, the ending is continued to Hassintie, so the power lines corner from 2011 will be a great place to spectate, as well as the tight hairpin coming from the small road.
Back in October I set up a twitter thread in Finnish for rally fans to request any stage they could want for next year’s Rally Finland. My own choice was Rapsula 1996, which is almost the same as this year’s Kakaristo, with only the beginning on different road. Great to get my wish fulfilled!
Another exciting new stage is Tuohikotanen, making a comeback after 31 years. It starts where Horkka or Painaa from the recent years ended, and continues onto the small road of Tuohikotasentie last used in 2006 on Vellipohja. It also used to be a part of Leustu. After that we continue on a road again familiar from Leustu/Painaa/Horkka, but we have a couple of new junction turns and jumps in the end.
Laukaa is reversed from last year, like it was last driven in 1990.
The power stage this year is Ruuhimäki, one of the most often driven stages in the history of the rally, although it has lately only served as a shakedown stage. Fighting for tenths of seconds on those jumps will be epic.
The stage has a new beginning, used in the opposite direction before in 1985, starting from a smaller road, coming onto a small tarmac bit and then joining the traditional beginning of the stage. The ending will be something new purpose built for the rally.
What a great route! Lots of new and interesting roads. I can’t wait for the actual rally.
Cover image by Tapio Lehtonen / Rallirinki