It’s now exactly 12 months since I got the idea of putting up a blog about special stages. What has happened during that time?
Initially, I didn’t have much of a plan for my blog. I had some things rotating in my mind to write about that, thoughts that were too long for tweets, even with the increased character count. A general rally blog would have been too incoherent, but I knew I was very interested in special stages and route maps.
At the same time a year ago I was wading deep through the maps of old 1000 Lakes Rallies, archiving them to rally-maps.com all the way back to 1980 using a mix of road books, spectator guides and overall route maps. Most of these stage maps have never been published before on the internet.
95% of the Rally Finland stages after 1994 on rally-maps.com are mapped from road books, but the older ones usually rely on hand-drawn spectator guide maps. The older stages often pose an additional challenge if the road lines are straightened and paved or new main roads built over stages. Luckily there’s a service for old Finnish base maps, and I’ve put that into use quite many times. I cannot say the stages are drawn 100% correctly, but as good as possible, and I keep improving them as I obtain new information.
A few months later I received a bag full of maps of local rallies, ranging from 1986 to the noughties. I decided to archive only the ones with some stages shared with 1000 Lakes Rallies. Similar procedure has been then applied to present day local rallies.
In the end, WRC is still the centre of my interest and upon receiving Rally Catalunya maps for each edition from 1993 onwards, I couldn’t say no for a complete archiving job. Same treatment is going on for Wales Rally GB/RAC Rally as we speak, but there’s still gaps to fill. ‘
The blog started out with a number of historical articles revolving around classic Finnish stages such as Ouninpohja, Hassi, Lankamaa and Ruuhimäki. Also some special editions of the 1000 Lakes Rally have been covered in their own entries. It was also a pleasure to be a part of the #ReliveRallyFinland2003 project with a route analysis. There’s still more historical texts to come, for example in a pair of long posts covering the route history of the Finnish WRC rally.
This year I have written route previews for every WRC event of the season. Generally I’m using the data available from rally-maps.com, ewrc-results.com, YouTube as well as the WRC+ footage and trying to put together interesting details in addition to explaining how the route has changed over the last years. It’s a challenging, sometimes even complicated task to put the incidents onto the map and connect the history to the present day. I was especially proud of the Finland, Turkey and Wales previews where I was able to talk about new stages by using onboard videos used before in local rallies.
It’s rewarding to hear that many experienced spectators or even works co-drivers are finding my work useful. Although, it also keeps the pressure on not to write incorrect information. Often the RG2 and official road book aren’t published until my blog post goes out (always 1-2 days after the previous rally ends) and sometimes it calls for some quick updates!
In between, sometimes I feel the need to write about some recent hot topic, such as the format of the WRC events, the return of the Safari Rally or virtual chicanes. Usually they gain less reader numbers – maybe it would be better to direct this stuff on twitter and forums for more discussion – but it’s still important for me to have an outlet for my thoughts.
Speaking of numbers, the 2018 Rally Finland route articles have been clearly the most popular ones, with surprisingly the Rally Deutschland preview becoming the most read one of the foreign ones.
TOP5 most read Route Previews of 2018
- Rally Finland
- Rally Deutschland
- Wales Rally GB
- Rally Turkey
- Rally Catalunya
I want to mention again it’s important for me not to use images stolen from the internet. All the pictures you see on my blog are free to use on a Creative Commons license or given to me by talented photographers such as Tapio Lehtonen or Richard Simpson, like the two excellent shots on this article. Big thanks to everyone supplying their photos!
Thanks also go to Sebastian Leicher from Rally-Maps.com, the folks at ewrc-results.com, Kari Nuutinen, as well as everyone scanning and sending me maps for archiving! This blog and the archived maps are my way of giving something to the rally community. This is my hobby and I wish to keep it free. In turn, I’m thankful for every reader and each comment.
It gets faster now!
Cover image by Tapio Lehtonen