From 2010 to 2013 the routes of Rally Finland changed drastically. The competitive lengths became shorter, but the road sections sometimes longer. Some of the days were driven further South than in years, bringing back stages from the past. Visits to service park became sparser. In addition, one distinct thing for all these four rallies was to end already on the Saturday night.
Cover image by Kyn Wai Chung / Flickr
2010 – Compact anniversary event
The route of the 2010 Rally Finland may not be as experimental as the three other editions in this era, but the structure of it is more connected to its successors than its predecessors. The first aspect is the route length, which became considerably shorter. The 2010 WRC rules allowed again 500 km competitive lengths, but many rallies kept getting shorter and shorter, looking more into the minimum length limit of 300 km. Thus Rally Finland 2010 also became only 310 km long – the shortest since 1975. In addition, for the first time stage count was smaller than 20, with only 19 stages.
All of the rallies from 2010 to 2013 ended already on Saturday evening. According to the current deputy clerk of the course Kari Nuutinen, the Sundays hadn’t been exactly popular with spectators, so it was reasonable to put the kilometres on the days when people were out on the stages. “The teams had also asked to end the rally a day earlier, because they were looking everywhere to cut costs”, remembers Nuutinen.
For this 60th anniversary rally, some classic stages were dusted off. Early plans included the legendary Humalamäki. It was even mentioned publicly by the then-AKK-chief Jarmo Mahonen whereas usually very little details of the route plans are told in advance. As we know, this plan failed to realize.
However, one classic to return was Laajavuori, which had served as the shakedown for many years. Now it became now the rally-opening Thursday super special, which was also repeated to conclude Friday. This year there was a new beginning section partly on tarmac.
A new stage Muurame was used to fill the shakedown void left by Laajavuori. However, it had been driven in the rally before the WRC years.
The morning was driven West of Jyväskylä with two stages repeated within the loop, exploiting a new rule of 80 km of maximum driving between two services. “The quick repeats offered a new experience for the spectators to see more without moving and shorter workdays for the stage organizers”, explains Kari Nuutinen, adding “but if something would have happened on the first run, the second one would have been vulnerable to cancellation”.
The quick repeats also allowed a wider geographic area to be covered during one day. On the afternoon the same approach was applied on two stages East side of Jyväskylä in addition to a single run of Lankamaa. Myhinpää was the pinnacle of afternoon, but on the way there another relic stage Sirkkamäki was driven for the first time since 1985, now to the opposite direction than then.
Saturday was quite the same as the year before, with just Kavala renamed as Kolonkulma, as if to underline the fact that it has nothing to do with the Kavala stage from the previous decades. Väärinmaja was the longest stage of the rally for the second year in a row. Meanwhile, Surkee had an extended route starting on a previously undriven forestry road and proceeding on a section of the fast Moksi road not driven since the late 80’s.
Himos took now the job of being the final stage of the rally. This is the last time the Vaheri roads have featured in the rally, seen on the beginning of this onboard video
It’s also worth mentioning that 2010 stands out as the first year since 1986 with no Ruuhimäki at all, not even as a shakedown.
2011-2013 – Southbound
In 2011 the Rally Finland organizers were looking Southward in order to gain more spectators for the rally. A new concept was introduced to make the crews drive around Lake Päijänne with a remote service in Lahti. “It’s an advantage that many organizers contact us to get our rally to their area” explains Kari Nuutinen. “This also gives the possibility to give long-time collaborators years off so they can rest”.
Now the rally started already on Thursday with a short North-Eastern leg, making it the first time since 1992 that there were forest stages in the rally already on Thursday.
On the Friday leg around lake Päijänne, a lot of old stages were dusted off from the archives. The day started with Hassi, not driven since 1995. It concluded with the small road of Konivuori, not used since 1991 and never in this direction.
This onboard shows the dualistic nature of the stage. It’s first fast and wide on the Hassi and Ouninpohja roads with spectators lining up the banks, then almost adventurous on the narrow and technical Konivuori forest road (from 6:00), which was strictly restricted from spectators, due to nature preserving and private properties in the area.
Next up was Evo, last driven in 1985. This version was closest to Evo 2 of 1984, with two short deviations and a bit of new road at the end.
Hyväneula started with roads from 1984’s Santamäki stage, but extended further. It was also the longest stage of the rally at 29 km, and the only Friday stage to be repeated.
From this onboard video we can see a geographical difference in the character of roads with little crests and jumps on a wide and firm road with still plenty of technical bends. There’s even a bit of broken tarmac at 10:52.
Koukunmaa was a new stage familiar from national rallies in Southern Finland. It’s the Southernmost stage ever driven in the Finnish WRC event. The next stage Koivukehä returned from 1984, but in the opposite direction.
A new twin-car trotting track stage Jokimaa was contested in Lahti. It was a more narrow and simple track than Killeri.
The route returned to Jyväskylä through the East side of Lake Päijänne. Mynnilä was the only stage on the way. It was driven for the first time since 1996, but now in reversed direction, with a short bit of new road at the end.
Saturday consisted of familiar stages West of Jyväskylä, with record-breaking six stages between two services on the afternoon loop. For this occasion Surkee turned right instead of left at the last junction. According to Kari Nuutinen, this was made in order to reduce the sparse recce time, although it increased the following liaison section.
A new name on the itinerary is Isojärvi, but looking closer it’s just the last kilometres of Jukojärvi split into its own stage. Originally Isojärvi was detached from Jukojärvi in order to accommodate the new (or actually returning) power stage concept. However, at the last moment it was decided that Laajavuori suits the job better. This was the first time Laajavuori closed the rally, having opened it numerous times.
Thanks to the new less-powered WRC cars and the updated stage material, the average speed of the whole rally dropped again 4 km/h from the year before. The fastest stages were Hyväneula and Urria, both reaching 129 km/h on the second runs.
Looking at the 2011 route today, it looks creative and ambitious. Although the Friday had long liaisons, many stages were close to each other, and thus the whole rally road section distance and the percentage of special stages in the rally remained quite similar to 2009 and 2010. This is quite astonishing, since the route structures are so different. Also, eight of the 22 stages were single-runs.
In 2012 the Southern leg was completed already on Thursday. This time the lake Päijänne wasn’t circled, since the highway on the East side was used both ways.
To keep the running order as it stood, competitive kilometres were kept low on the opening day, consisting of just Koukunmaa and a lengthened-and-reversed Mynnilä sandwiching the Jokimaa super special. Thus Thursday had roughly 30 stage kilometres and 492 liaison kilometres. The drivers were not happy.
Friday was driven West and North of Jyväskylä. Palsankylä returned after a few years off, while Lankamaa used again its alternate ending from 2008.
Killeri concluded Friday, making it two different super specials in the rally for the first and so far only time since 1998. The 2012 Friday and Saturday are also the last times the rally has had a day’s program split into three loops with two visits to the service park.
The Saturday stages were driven South-West. No pace notes were usable from the year before. Leustu was run in reversed direction for the first time ever.
Surkee was also reversed. It featured now again the infamous Parkkola junction in the direction familiar from the 90’s. However, for younger drivers, it was still difficult to decide where to turn.
However, the most welcome route update was that Ouninpohja was back. It was driven twice at the end of the rally, the second run being also the power stage. By now it was already new to many drivers, having been off the rally for five years. It was also the first chicane-free complete run of the stage since 2004. Thanks to the less-powered cars, the speed of the stage was not a problem.
The number of stages was now at an all-time low of 18 and the competitive length shortest of the modern era with only 303 stage kilometres. In addition, only 18.7% of the route was special stages, being also the lowest number ever in the history of the rally. If we want to find something positive about the 2012 route, the number of single-run stages was still a reasonable third of the stage count.
The Thursday of 2013 proposed a new approach for the Southern loop by driving to the Koukunmaa stage and back on the West side of lake Päijänne instead of going to Lahti. Two stages were driven on the way both coming and going. The day managed to create 436 kilometres of liaisons for the sake of 45 stage kilometres.
The first stage of the rally was now Himos – joining the group of Kuohu and Laajavuori as stages which have both opened and closed the rally. It had a new route based now solely on the skiing center, starting with a hill climb and proceeding onto a steep descend. A tunnel was used to cross the beginning of the route onto to the artificial track from the 90’s.
Second of the two stages was Torittu, last driven in 1985, now with a revised route. It used only a short section from the 1985 stage in reverse direction, and shared the ending with the pre-1984 versions.
On the second run of Himos, the cars went back for a second loop of the stage, again something unseen before on the rally during its WRC years. The next car was then sent to start 30 seconds after the previous one had passed.
The day concluded with Killeri. It was repeated at the end of Friday but this would be the last appearance of this controversial stage for now.
Friday and Saturday didn’t see much changes from the year before, but the stages were now set up in two four-stage loops with only a midday service in between, instead of three loops and two services. This would become the default configuration for the future rallies.
Urria took a year off while Leustu was shortened to contain only the Western parts of the stage. Meanwhile, Jukojärvi and Lankamaa were reversed, this being the only time the latter stage has been run in this direction, as seen on this video
The name Painaa was revived for a new power stage. It actually resembled more the 1987 Tuohikotanen stage, with a part familiar from the reversed Leustu from the year before. Most of the latter parts of the route were also shared with the Vellipohja stage last driven in 2006, including a fast forest road with heavy jumps, as well as a downhill hairpin junction.
Another small addition came in the form of the artificial Tommi’s Jump, set on the Kakaristo section of Ouninpohja. In addition to creating a good spectator area, it also protected the house on the side of the road from a shower of stones. However, an artificial jump on a classic stage like Ouninpohja stirred up some hot discussions.
The 2013 route had only one stage which was driven once. This was the lowest amount of single-run stages in the history of the rally, but soon this was to become the rule, not the exception.
A lot of criticism has been given to the Southbound routes of 2011-2013, but the organizers claim the days in the South provided some of the highest ticket-selling numbers in the history of the rally. However, drivers weren’t happy with the long liaisons, and thus the route wouldn’t go into these areas again.
|Year||Stages||Stages total length||Avg stage length||Winner avg speed||Fastest stage||Longest stage|
|2010||19||310.05 km||16.32 km||122.80 km\h||Myhinpää||133.09 km\h||Väärinmaja||29.29 km|
|2011||22||314.39 km||14.29 km||118.30 km\h||Urria||129.44 km\h||Hyväneula||29.90 km|
|2012||18||303.52 km||16.86 km||122.89 km\h||Mynnilä||129.70 km\h||Ouninpohja||33.01 km|
|2013||23||324.21 km||14.10 km||119.21 km\h||Ouninpohja||130.75 km\h||Ouninpohja||33.01 km|
The lowest percentage of stage kilometres in Finnish WRC events
|Year||Amount of stage kilometres|
|5.||2014 & 2018||22.20%|
List of stages which have been both the first and the last stage of the Finnish WRC event:
Stages run every year 2010-2013:
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