Finnish gravel roads and Group B cars – what a combination. In these years the 1000 Lakes Rally route headed mostly South-West from Jyväskylä. It introduced its first night breaks, but still included long and tough days of driving. The stages were short but there were a high number of them, with a few double or even triple runs. Towards the end of this era, the speeds were brought down drastically by using controversial methods.
Cover image by Jouni Laakso (c). Thanks to Ville Niemonen for background material research.
1982 – The first night break
A new concept was introduced for 1982 and the following three years. The rally would start on the Friday evening towards South-East with familiar stages, but return to Jyväskylä for a six-hour night break at midnight. However, after this the drivers still had to sit in the car for 26 hours with only short regroup breaks until the rally finished on the Sunday morning.
Although the 1982 rally was restructured from the previous year, the numbers stayed largely where they were. The route was 1432 km long, 479 km of which was made up from the 47 special stages.
On the Saturday morning a long leg started again with familiar stages East of Jyväskylä. At 10:32 we can see a spectacular junction from a rare long version of the Myhinpää stage, which was the longest of the rally at 25 km.
A regrouping was held in the afternoon in Jyväskylä. Harju was the first stage after the break, being the only super special in addition to Laajavuori.
The drivers headed again South-West, towards Lammi and Hämeenlinna. Stages on the way included the second runs of Saalahti and Ouninpohja. Evo – which had nothing in common with the similarly titled and nearby situated Vähä-Evo from 1979 – was a new, rather technical stage. Conversely, Haukila was a quite straightforward blast starting soon after Laitikkala’s finish.
The first two stages after the Saturday night regroup – Lastunen and Savo – were new, the latter becoming a spectator favourite for years to come. The route returned Northwards through Teisko and Juupajoki. Viitapohja was the same stage as Savonkylä the year before, whereas Hirvijärvi was a shortened version of Ristijärvi.
Having reached the final regroup in Jämsä very early on Sunday morning, the drivers set out for a shorter loop Southwards. During that they did Ouninpohja for the third(!) time, as well as Päijälä and Vaheri for the second time.
New stages on the final morning included Poikuskulma and Huhtia, the former sharing half of its route with Friday’s new stage Piippala. The name Lahnalahti is also rare, but it’s actually just a long version of the Hassi stage, since a shorter Hassi was already driven on Friday night.
The last stage of the rally was Kuohu, but this version had little or nothing in common with the previous versions. Now most of the stage was driven on narrower private roads. It would remain as the rally concluding stage until 1986. Here’s a junction turn from its route at 8:54.
The whole rally average speed received a new record of 109.04 km/h. Meanwhile, the fastest stage was Urria at 128.69 km/h, driven for the last time without a small road section in the beginning.
1983-1985 – The deep South-West
The years 1983-1985 used a similar format between each other. Despite early plans of a four-day rally for 1983, the timetable and overall structure were still largely copied from 1982. The only change was that the long South-West Saturday night leg was now driven further from Jyväskylä in a long continuous loop.
An update was issued for the Laajavuori stage in 1983. It would now end near the Killeri trotting track – the same one that would be used for another super special in the next millennium. The route can be seen well in this TV broadcast from 1985.
The opening stages were still the classic sequence of Laajavuori, Humalamäki, Urria, Ehikki, Ouninpohja and Päijälä just like since 1977. The rest of the Friday night stages during these three years were always Poikuskulma, Pihlajakoski, Hassi, Vaheri and Saalahti. The only exception was that Vaheri was canceled in 1985 already before the rally.
A new super special in the Kovalanmäki rallycross track as well as the new forest stage of Pölläkkä were added into the beginning of the 1983 Saturday morning East leg. However, they were driven only this one year. Kovalanmäki can be seen here at 13:19.
A new stage called Painaa was one of the first forest stages after the midday regroup. This video at 31:20 shows a famous jump on its route from the 1984 rally. Today, this piece of road is dug into a gravel pit.
The route from Saturday afternoon until the small hours was similar every year from 1983 to 1985. Ouninpohja and Päijälä from Friday were repeated as the route headed South towards Lammi. After the Tyrynkylä stage, there was a regroup near the city of Hämeenlinna. Then a clock-wise loop Westwards was done for a string of new stages such as Ohtinen, Välkkilä, Vahonen and Krääkkiö.
At this point – in the middle of the night – the 1983 route headed North-East towards Jyväskylä. The first stage on the way, Onkemäki, was also new. The Teisko area stages were skipped this time, and there was a considerably long liaison after the Savo test.
Next up was a new stage called Juupajoki, containing a part in reverse from the old Salokunta stage, as well as a short tarmac section. The following stage Kalasaari was also new, but it started with the same forest road as the Riukusalmi stage some years before, but now in the opposite direction. The stage also had a paved corner just before its finish line. Kalasaari was also attempted to run already in 1982.
The Hassi stage from 1983 raises up a question. Markku Alen’s winning time was 10:37, equaling a hefty average speed of 134 km/h. The same stage was driven in 1982 and 1984 but both times the winning time was around two minutes longer! I trust the times more than the stage lengths. It could be that the stage has been shortened at the last minute. As of now, this remains a mystery.
The last leg of the rally was tough. When Hannu Mikkola was interviewed at the finish, his eyes reportedly barely kept open. On the contrary, Markku Alen claimed the 1000 Lakes Rally shouldn’t have longer breaks in order to keep up the driving rhythm!
The 1984 route didn’t apply much changes to 1983. However, Humalamäki was canceled after an accident where spectators were injured.
During these three years, Ruuhimäki was driven into the opposite direction than usually. It created a big jump which can be seen here at 7:46
In 1984 Kuusanmäki was split into two parts, making the latter form a new stage Moksi, which would be known as Korpiaho the year after. However, the Moksi stages from 1988 onwards have nothing to do with this stage. Similarly, Evo was split into two parts, but they were labeled oddly Evo 1 and Evo 2, with Evo 2 having also some previously undriven roads at the end.
After the regroup, Raitoo was a new stage inserted between Välkkilä and Vahonen. Additionally. the 1984 Onkemäki stage shared its beginning with the 1983 Krääkkiö, but the ending had only two kilometres in common with the 1983 Onkemäki, and that in reversed direction.
The Teisko stages from 1982 returned onto the 1984 route to replace the long liaison after Savo. A new stage pair of Pirttijärvi and Murole was also introduced for this section of the route. After them, Syväjärvi was a new forest road stage, not to be mixed with the 1978 stage with the same title. Syväjärvi was then renamed as Hursti in 1985. This stage ended just before the start of Väärinmaja, which made a comeback in 1984 after a few years of absence.
On the way back to Jyväskylä, Huhtia had a new beginning, approaching the forest road section from West, resulting in a tight junction left turn. It can be seen on this video at 21:02
The overall rally average speed reached now 110 km/h for the first time. It wouldn’t be topped until 1990. Henri Toivonen said in his post-rally column that the rally organizers should try to find slower special stages because the cars were becoming so fast.
On the 1985 Saturday morning, Ruuhimäki extended onto smaller forest roads and a short piece of tarmac. The same route in the opposite direction would be used 33 years later for the power stage. At the same time, the stages between Ruuhimäki and Myhinpää were left out, but other stages like Valkola and Jouhtikylä were brought back after a few years’ break.
A new stage called Pöykky replaced Kuusanmäki as the first forest stage after Harju. It’s seen here at 29:24, followed by the ending of Ouninpohja, which would be run for the last time in its classic format.
The two Evo stages were now called more logically Evo and Iso-Evo. The former was shortened and the latter run in reverse direction to 1984. A shortened and reversed version of Kostila was driven after them, returning from 1982.
The South-West leg from Hämeenlinna onwards stretched now further. The lake Näsi was bypassed via its West side, adding stages in the Nokia and Ylöjärvi areas. This included new names such as Ekojärvi, Pentinmaa, Pengonpohja and Sarvana (reversed version of the earlier Siikalahti stage).
Although the progress of the cars was drastic in this time, the average speed of the whole rally didn’t top the previous year. Part of this can be attributed to new smaller road sections and added junctions in the route, such as on Ruuhimäki. It could also be that the competition wasn’t as tight during the final night, as some of the stages were driven much faster the year after (although then in daylight). The conditions were also more rainy in 1985 compared to the sunny 1984.
The fastest average speed of these three years was on the 1984 Taulu stage with Ari Vatanen’s time fractionally over 130 km/h. Hannu Mikkola’s infamous Ouninpohja run in 1985 comes second at 127 km/h, equaling the 1983 Humalamäki. Myhinpää in 1985 was also reaching 125 km/h and it’s not hard to believe when you look at this footage at 10:20.
In those days the rally didn’t have an official shakedown, but the organizers arranged a “test stage” usually on the Wednesday of the rally week, two days before the rally started. In 1983 and 1984 Humalamäki was used, whereas in 1985 a shortened Ruuhimäki took the job.
From 1983 to 1985 the actual stage count was at 50, highest so far in the rally. Still, the competitive length revolved around 460–470 km and road section length between 960–990 km. This in turn meant that the average stage length was at slightly over 9 km.
For 1984 and 1985 only three stages were repeated – Ehikki, Ouninpohja and Päijälä. 1983 repeated also Vaheri in addition to this. Each year Ehikki had different endings for its two versions with the 1983 versions being the most drastically different between each other.
A weird thing about the 1985 route is that it had SS33a Ohtinen and SS33b Vahteristo. Ohtinen had to be shortened at the last moment, creating the need for a new stage, but the stage numbers couldn’t be modified anymore. However, with Vaheri being canceled, the overall stage count didn’t actually change to what was planned.
1986 – End of overnight driving
A unique thing about the 1000 Lakes Rally 1986 is that it was arranged on the first weekend of September, later than normally. This would mean a few minutes shorter days than usually.
New rules after the tragedy in Tour de Corse 1986 forced some quick changes for all following WRC events. One of the new regulations said that the drivers weren’t allowed to drive overnight anymore. Instead, they had to have nine-hour night breaks to rest properly. This shortened the last sections of the 1986 1000 Lakes Rally route.
Already after the 1985 event, drivers had criticized the long second leg of the rally. The organizers had in turn promised to include a few hours of break for the second night, but the aforementioned new regulation removed a loop of stages near the end of the rally. This might have partly resulted in the route being situated completely South-West of Jyväskylä.
Already after the fatal accident in Rally Portugal, FISA demanded actions for improving the safety of WRC rallies. One suggestion – which became a demand after Tour de Corse – was that no stage should exceed the 110 km/h average limit, with a 10% tolerance. This required yet again last-minute changes to the 1986 route.
Looking at the 1985 fastest stage win average speeds, three stages stand above the others – Humalamäki, Myhinpää and Ouninpohja. The two first were skipped altogether, whereas Ouninpohja was shortened to consist only of its more technical ending section.
However, the regulations weren’t to blame for a new structure in the route with the first night break held remotely in the city of Tampere, since it was already visible on earlier plans. However, this would be the last remote night break ever held in the rally.
The first leg towards Tampere used mostly familiar stages. The first repeat of Ehikki had a short bit of previously undriven forest road at the end. The junction can be seen here at 1:00:02
To replace the lost kilometres from the beginning of Ouninpohja, a new stage called Rapsula was added. It ended on a part of the old Ouninpohja but had a new small road section at the beginning.
Koivulahti was brought back after many years of absence, now in the opposite direction. It would remain a staple stage for a decade. Savo would have been the last stage of the Friday night, but it was canceled due to spectator issues.
A brand new super special stage opened Saturday in the city of Valkeakoski. The route of the stage included paved streets and jogging paths. It can be seen on this video at 6:29
After this the route was almost identical to 1985 in the furthest South-West. This was the first time these stages were driven in daylight but at the same time their last appearance on WRC level, as the rally would never again stretch as far.
On the way back to Jyväskylä, the classic Väärinmaja stage was extended to include a part of the Syväjärvi/Hursti stage, as well as a tarmac passage. The aforementioned sections can be seen on this video at 4:04
New stages Kavala (driven previously partially as Syväjärvi in 1978) and Kaipolanvuori were added to the Juupajoki-Jämsä area. The former would be known for its triangular junction detour called “the clerk of the course’s special” and the latter for its gravel pit passages. The day concluded at Harju with dusk falling before the drivers got some rest.
It’s notable that the Saturday program didn’t include any regroupings or lunch breaks. The drivers barely had time to get out of the car between 8:25 and 20:13. The longest time between two stages was 51 minutes, and that included a 7 km special stage and 51 kilometres of liaison!
Saturday 1986 schedule
|Time||#||Stage||Length||Time before next stage||Liaison|
|8:56||SS12||Valkeakoski||3.20 km||0:43||39.50 km|
|9:39||SS13||Ohtinen||6.50 km||0:28||20.20 km|
|10:07||SS14||Vahteristo||4.57 km||0:23||16.00 km|
|10:30||SS15||Vaikkila||11.15 km||0:28||19.46 km|
|10:58||SS16||Raitoo||8.94 km||0:37||30.02 km|
|11:35||SS17||Vahonen||16.31 km||0:28||20.12 km|
|12:03||SS18||Kraakkio||10.00 km||0:29||19.81 km|
|12:32||SS19||Ekojarvi||22.23 km||0:35||29.65 km|
|13:07||SS20||Maso||7.92 km||0:51||51.03 km|
|13:58||SS21||Pentinmaa||16.90 km||0:42||36.40 km|
|14:40||SS22||Pengonpohja||7.91 km||0:37||32.16 km|
|15:17||SS23||Sarvana||6.48 km||0:22||15.58 km|
|15:39||SS24||Murole 1||7.16 km||0:42||39.17 km|
|16:21||SS25||Vaarinmaja 1||12.02 km||0:46||45.68 km|
|17:07||SS26||Kavala 1||5.28 km||0:33||31.56 km|
|17:40||SS27||Kaipolanvuori 1||5.14 km||0:27||21.40 km|
|18:07||SS28||Huhtia 1||5.43 km||0:13||6.60 km|
|18:20||SS29||Ehikki 2||6.43 km||0:39||34.61 km|
|18:59||SS30||Moksi||5.31 km||0:42||38.87 km|
The final South-Western leg started before the sunrise with the second run of Laajavuori at 5:10. The first forest stage was Pöykky, extending now on roads used often later on the Surkee and Moksi stages.
The second repeat of Rapsula became the rally decider with Alen rolling the car from the lead on the new small road section. The damaged car can be seen here at 5:10, at the following junction where the stage joined the old Ouninpohja route.
The only new stage of this loop was Konivuori with a very technical section. The day consisted otherwise mostly of repeats from Friday and Saturday. In addition, Juupajoki had a largely new route, starting on a technical forest road. At 43:29 on this video we can see the stage join a wider road.
The 1986 total stage length was reduced to 389 km and stage count to 48, with the road section total length remaining unchanged. There were now record-breakingly eight repeated stages, thanks to the rally operating solely South West from Jyväskylä. It’s also notable that Ehikki was driven three times during the rally, each day’s version having a slightly different ending. Also, Laajavuori was repeated for the first time, in addition to being the “shakedown”.
Since the rally didn’t go at all to East or North of Jyväskylä, many old classic stages such as Ruuhimäki and Kuukanpää were dropped from the route in addition to the fast Myhinpää. Furthermore, stages in the South-West area like Vaheri and Hassi weren’t included, possibly because of being considered too fast.
In the end the average speeds were slower than the year before by only less than 1 km/h. However, only four stages exceeded the allowed 121 km/h with Urria being the fastest at 126 km/h. This just proves how much the cars developed again in a year, and also how tight the competition was that year. A part of it could also be addressed to night breaks giving more rest to the drivers and less driving in the dark.
Meanwhile, Konivuori became the slowest forest stage of the rally with highest average speeds as low as 92 km/h. Slow roads like this hadn’t been seen in years on daylight stages, but more was to come.
1987 – The slowest year
You might wonder a Group A year is included in this post. Route-wise, 1987 has more in common with its predecessors than its successors in terms of the stage count, average length and schedule as well as the areas used. Similarly, certain stages saw their end of the road (permanently or temporarily) in 1987 while many new stages were introduced in 1988.
In 1986 FISA had notified the organizers for stages exceeding their new 110 km/h average speed limit. This had put even the WRC value of the rally at stake. Thus the clerk of the course Pentti Huisman decided to make sure no stage in 1987 would exceed the limit even without the 10% tolerance applied.
This was implemented by taking the stages onto very small forest roads as well as by adding chicanes to faster sections. Some of the chicanes were constructed simply by placing piles of tyres onto the road, some by making the cars do detours in triangular junctions or through farmyards, like here in Mynnilä at 14:42 or Laitikkala at 32:32.
Many aspects of the route are confusing. Some roads or stages were used only this one year. The stage titles were often overwritten by commercial titles, and the lengths were marked deliberately longer than they were in order to lower the average speeds. In addition, some stage updates – such as removing chicanes from long straights per request of the drivers – happened just before the rally, resulting in different sources having different lengths and thus different average speeds for certain stages.
This time the event was extended to last for four days, possibly in order to have enough time to drive through a slower and longer route. Thus the rally started already on the Thursday evening. The first stage was Harju, with a largely updated route, shown on a TV broadcast.
The first leg was similar to the Friday legs of the years before 1986. However, the night break at Jyväskylä was scheduled as late as 2:47. Thus most of the Thursday stages were driven in darkness.
Urria included bits of forestry road at the beginning and the end to slow it down. Still it was the fastest stage of the rally – the only one to exceed the 110 km/h limit, and that only fractionally.
Like the year before, Rapsula was used as a substitute for Ouninpohja. Similarly, Huhtia replaced the fast Ehikki stage. New stages included Tuohikotanen near Painaa and Arvaja near Hassi. Rumpali from 1977 was now renamed as Poikkijärvi, becoming the slowest forest stage of the rally with only 84 km/h of average speed.
Laajavuori was driven at the beginning of both Friday and Saturday, and also as the “shakedown”. The shakedown run can be seen on this onboard, although the title claims otherwise.
Friday took the crews South towards Joutsa on the East side of lake Päijänne for the first time since 1981. Some of the stages were reused or modified from past years, but a lot of the roads were new.
The Ruuhimäki route was copied from 1985 but shortened and altered from the end. This format would be used for decades, although usually in the opposite direction. The ending can be seen on this TV broadcast.
The stage after Ruuhimäki is officially known only by its sponsor title Omega Torvinen. The newspaper Keskisuomalainen has it labeled as Kaakkovuori, whereas Helsingin Sanomat used the title Ruuhipirtti. The stage had parts from older Ruuhimäki and Taulu versions, as well as other roads not used in any other edition of the rally. Today, the the main road 618 is built over the route of the stage.
The new Friday stages Rajalahti, Hotila and Soimaharju would be used a few times in the upcoming years. Vartiamäki returned in an extended version, which infamously passed the stairs of a house very close by. Lempää was also mostly a new stage for this year, starting with faster roads (with chicanes) and ending with forestry roads leading to a skiing slope.
The day concluded with Seppälänkangas, which hadn’t been used in years, and wouldn’t be ever driven again in the rally. Here you can see a new video where latter half of the stage is being traced on the area which has changed and/or deteriorated a lot throughout the decades
Saturday took the crews again South-West. The second forest stage of the morning, Leustu, was another new one, partly on same roads as Painaa. Leustu can be seen here for two scenes at 35:25
One curious stage on the way was Unionin sähäkkä (known only by its sponsor title). It started at the same place as Rapsula but went through very small forest roads and joined Ouninpohja just after the yellow house jump. It was also one of the slowest stages of the rally.
Another stage to go through the slowing down process was Päijälä. After 6 kilometres it turned onto small forest roads and then concluded on the beginning of the Poikuskulma stage, in reversed direction.
The midday regrouping was held at Valkeakoski. The first forest stage after the pause was an extended version of Savo. It was one of the stages to have chicanes removed from its route at the last minute. The new ending would be never driven again, and today it’s paved and straightened. That section can be seen on this TV broadcast.
The rally returned towards Jyväskylä through Teisko. Pohtola returned in its 1982 format. Meanwhile, Pirttijärvi had received some very rough and soft forestry tracks to slow it down, seen here on 35:36
The penultimate stage of the day was Vesala, with some twists and turns at a gravel pit. The beginning of the stage, with its hairpin junction, would be used later on the shakedown stage in 2018.
Sunday was reminiscent of the 1986 Sunday final loop around Jämsä with again almost all stages being repeats of previous days. The day still contained the longest stage of the rally, Konivuori, with a new beginning using partly the 1985 Hassi route. Meanwhile, the second repeat of Arvaja was canceled due to the bad condition of the forest road.
A brand new final stage Rank Xerox was introduced, but never used in the rally again. Again, the official title was derived from a sponsor but various media sources named the stage Härköpohja, Niittyaho, Vitikkala or Muurame. This pre-recorded onboard (driven by Timo Mäkinen) shows again how small roads the rally used at times.
List of 1987 sponsor titled stages
|Sponsor title||Title used other years||Labeled in other sources as|
|SS9||Citta di San Remo 1||Vaheri 1|
|SS12||Samara 1||Laajavuori 1|
|SS14||Omega Torvinen||–||Kaakkovuori (KSML), Ruuhipirtti (HS)|
|SS17||Mobira 1||Mynnilä||Liikola (KSML)|
|SS25||Samara 2||Laajavuori 2|
|SS26||Systems GWS||Pöykky 1|
|SS28||Unionin Sähäkkä||–||Ouninpohja (KSML), Hämepohja (HS)|
|SS33||Bosch Racing Team||Haukila|
|SS38||Thorn Video & TV||Murole|
|SS51||Hyundai Computers||Tuohikotanen 2||Painaa (KSML)|
|SS52||Rank Xerox||–||Härköpohja (juwra), Muurame (YLE), Vitikkala (KSML), Niittyaho (HS)|
There were more super specials than ever before: double runs over Laajavuori and the extended Harju in addition to a single run of Valkeakoski and the gravel pit tests of Seppälänkangas and Vesala.
The actual competitive distance of 499 km and the total length at 1691 km made the 1987 1000 Lakes Rally the longest edition since 1973. The actual stage count also reached a new record of 51, as did the number of repeated stages at nine. The two repetitions of Vaheri had different start sections. Meanwhile, Unionin sähäkkä shared sections with Rapsula and Konivuori.
The combination of small roads, chicanes and the primitive Group A cars worked, as the average speed of the rally became as low as 95 km/h, the slowest Finnish WRC rally ever. In the Group B era only the slowest few stages were under 100 km/h in average speed, which was now more of a rule than an exception.
Mattila was the one and only stage driven similarly in 1986 and 1987, providing a benchmark for the progress of the cars. The 1987 stage win was 20 seconds slower, equaling a loss of two seconds per kilometre.
The slow route received bad feedback from all parties, including FISA. The works drivers lost the joy of driving in the chicanes, whereas the privateers had to resort to recce speed to get through the rutted forest roads. Things would change in this aspect for the following years.
|Year||Stages||Stages Total Length||Avg
|Fastest stage||Longest stage|
|1982||47/48||470.82 km||10.02 km||109.04 km\h||Urria||128.69 km\h||Myhinpää||25.21 km|
|1983||50||472.43 km||9.45 km||107.48 km\h||Humalamäki||127.38 km\h||Ouninpohja||24.49 km|
|1984||50/51||457.27 km||9.15 km||110.27 km\h||Taulu||130.66 km\h||Ouninpohja||24.55 km|
|1985||50/51||458.01 km||9.16 km||109.67 km\h||Ouninpohja||127.32 km\h||Ouninpohja||24.58 km|
|1986||47/48||381.86 km||8.12 km||107.69 km\h||Urria||126.00 km\h||Ekojärvi||22.23 km|
|1987||51/52||499.65 km||9.80 km||95.97 km\h||Urria||111.69 km\h||Konivuori||30.11 km|
The Finnish WRC events with most stages
Stages run every year 1982-1987:
- Laajavuori (as Samara in 1987)
- Urria (as OKO in 1987)
- Ouninpohja (as Unionin Sähäkkä 1987)
EDIT 21.4.2020: Added Huhtia video