Rally Finland celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. The route represents stages from each era. This blog post introduces the route briefly.
Cover photo by Kyn Wai Chung / Flickr
The overall view of the route reveals again quick repeated stages within the morning and afternoon loops on Friday, which means the spectators can see easily two runs of the same stage without waiting the whole day. Meanwhile, all the stages are now run again twice. The rally is also operating now on a tighter geographical area than ever before.
Thursday kicks off again with the shakedown in Vesala, introduced in 2018. This year it’s slightly shorter and reversed. Usually it has been the fastest stage of the rally, thanks to the flat out small road section.
Harju has kept its place as the Thursday and Friday super special, no question about that. However, now Laajavuori is driven to close Saturday and repeated as the power stage on Sunday. For this second run, the stage is set in a loop, extending the length up to 8 km. This is a great solution for spectators, but the road durability is in question.
Friday starts with essentially the Sunday loop from the previous years, Laukaa and Ruuhimäki. I have to admit I was surprised to see Ruuhimäki act now as a “normal” stage instead of being a shakedown, a power stage or even a TV stage. Like said, these stages are repeated before the midday service.
It gets more interesting on the afternoon. There’s again a repeated loop of three stages. First of them is no less than Humalamäki, a classic spectator favourite not run since 1985. It’s slowed down by a couple of additional junction turns and a detour to a houseyard, but still probably the fastest stage of the rally.
Next up is Ässämäki, which is one of the newest stages of the rally, first driven in 2018. Now it’s reversed, meaning the beginning is completely new, whereas the ending is familiar from the Halinen stage of 2016-2017.
Sahloinen-Moksi is a new stage title, but essentially it’s the same stage as the extended Surkee from 2010. Now the stage only starts 2.5 km earlier, on roads which were used from 1992 to 1995 on the Sahloinen and Surkee stages. A section of Sahloinen-Moksi was driven last year as Moksi, but to the opposite direction.
Saturday is largely the same as the year before. Pihlajakoski, Päijälä and Kakaristo are unchanged. Out of them, Päijälä is again the longest stage of the rally at just over 22 km.
However, the fourth stage Arvaja is a title last used in 1987. The stage starts with a soft and technical forestry road with big crests which was also used on the Hassi stages from 1992 to 1995. This year’s Arvaja is closest matched to Hassi 1994, with a bit of faster roads on the North side, with the last junction turn being new for this year.
Before the Laajavuori power stage, Sunday starts with two runs of Oittila, driven in the same format as last year. The rally is far from being over with two runs on this demanding 19 km stage with both slow and fast sections.
Compared to last year, the stages Urria, Äänekoski and Leustu were dropped. Would they have passed as “classic” stages with history in the past decades? For sure.
Of course, I was expecting more of classic forest stages to be included in the rally, but I didn’t believe for a second that Humalamäki would be ever driven again. However, you can always ask for the moon, but then again, all the stages in this rally are great, no doubt about that.
UPDATED 23.2. fixed map image of Laajavuori