After Rally Finland introduced its 2018 route in early March there has been rumors of FIA being concerned with the route being too slow, thus not being challenging enough for the drivers or interesting for the spectators. And indeed, a demand for changes was made to the organizers and now a revised version of the itinerary has been approved and published.
The route team has made an excellent job at studying the history and finding faster roads for the Gravel Road Grand Prix. A prime example of this is the Konttimäki stage where Marcus Grönholm set the fastest time in 2000 in a Peugeot 206 WRC with an average speed of 138 km/h.
Urria will be stripped of its planned additional roads and junctions, reverted all the way back to its 1982 junctionless format when it was already driven at 128 km/h pace by Hannu Mikkola, about 17% faster than the rest of the rally. Even last year with smaller roads and chicanes Esapekka Lappi’s fastest time equalled an average speed of 131 km/h.
Similar treatment is done for the power stage of Ruuhimäki with 12 kilometres of absolutely no junctions, the same route having been driven 37 years ago at average speed of 130 km/h, again by Mikkola. Back then it was about 122% of the whole rally winning average speed. This year it should be even faster, with the road having been partly paved.
An easier task was to change the Saturday stages to their faster versions of past years, such as Pihlajakoski from 2016 or Päijälä the year before. It was also a no-brainer for Sunday to have Myhinpää, where Sebastien Ogier won the power stage in 2015 with average speed of 135 km/h.
However, the biggest and most talked change is the return of Ouninpohja. To make sure people of rallying get their yearly dose of jumps and speed, the legendary stage will be driven a total of four times during Saturday, sacrificing second runs of Päijälä and Pihlajakoski. Ouninpohja remains the same from 2017, except for the removal of chicanes. The organizers are expecting average speeds of 150 km/h to be exceeded on the final runs, with the drivers perfecting their pace notes up to the point where they don’t need them anymore because they remember the stage without them.
Even the super special of Harju had to be changed over for the original pure oval trotting track version of Killeri with winning average speed of 118 km/h, probably the fastest super special ever driven. The clerk of the course Kai Tarkiainen was quoted saying “If this is not enough, we are prepared to add a stage on the highway between Lahti and Jyväskylä”.
EDIT: Yes. This was an April Fools article, but the winning average speeds are true and a route like this could technically be driven.
The updated route for Rally Finland is as follows:
SS1 Killeri 2,23 km (2000, winning average speed 118 km/h)
SS2 Parkkola 11,07 km (1999, winning average speed 135 km/h)
SS3 Urria 7,90 km (1982, winning average speed 128 km/h)
SS4 Kruununperä 1 20,17 km (2003, winning average speed 133 km/h)
SS5 Konttimäki 13,08 km (2000, winning average speed 138 km/h)
SS6 Muittari 13,51 km (2000, winning average speed 133 km/h)
SS7 Parkkola 2 11,07 km
SS8 Urria 2 7,90 km
SS9 Kruununperä 2 20,17 km
SS10 Konttimäki 2 13,08 km
SS11 Muittari 2 13,51 km
SS12 Killeri 2 2,23 km
SS13 Ouninpohja 24,38 km (2017, winning average speed 135 km/h, with chicanes to be removed)
SS14 Pihlajakoski 14,51 km (2016, winning average speed 134 km/h)
SS15 Ouninpohja 2 24,38 km
SS16 Ouninpohja 3 24,38 km
SS17 Päijälä 23.56 km (2015, winning average speed 133 km/h)
SS18 Ouninpohja 4 24,38 km
SS19 Myhinpää 13.13 km (2015, winning average speed 135 km/h)
SS20 Ruuhimäki 12.44 km (1981, winning average speed 130 km/h)
SS21 Myhinpää 2 13.13 km
SS22 Ruuhimäki 2 12.44 km