Recognizing filming locations from rallying videos

As a route enthusiast I love recognizing filming locations from rallying videos.  It’s become almost of a hobby of its own, especially with 1000 Lakes Rally videos. I cannot even just watch rallying videos anymore without doing this. Often I fast-forward through a long video just to see all the different filming locations. Here’s a quick example of how I proceed with places I don’t recognize instantly.

Cover image by Kyn Wai Chung / Flickr

I recently stumbled cross a 1000 Lakes Rally 1987 clip on the YouTube I hadn’t seen before. It was interesting since that event doesn’t have awfully lot of footage available on the YouTube, but it also showed a place I didn’t recognize, I had to know where it was filmed!

The news report clip (at 11:08 on the video) shows three cars going through one of the chicanes of 1987, made from a triangular junction entry. I wanted to know where that place is, because I didn’t remember such a chicane from the routes which I had digitized before.

The 1987 1000 Lakes Rally had 52 stages. How did I start narrowing it down to find that chicane?

First of all, the reporter and the driver interviews reveal that the footage is from Friday, since they talk about Kankkunen’s problems and that the rally hadn’t reached even its midpoint. The footage could obviously be from Thursday as well, but those stages were driven mostly in the dark, whereas this one seems to be in daylight, albeit in grey weather.

One of the three cars is Timo Salonen, on the Mazda with number one. He retired on SS18, meaning the footage must be between SS12 and SS18 (although SS12 Laajavuori and SS13 Ruuhimäki are so familiar that they were practically instantly out of question).

The first driver on the clip is Juha Kankkunen, the Lancia with number two. The car is covered in mud, with the rear lights or license plate not even visible, and the door number only barely.

Screen Shot 2020-05-02 at 10.03.24

Here is another 1987 video showing Kankkunen on various other Friday stages – Ruuhimäki, Ruuhipirtti and Vartiamäki at 9:02, as well as Lempää, Mynnilä, Rajalahti and Hotila at 15:19. We can see that the car is slightly cleaner on most stages, but on Lempää and Mynnilä it’s very muddy, just as on the mystery clip.

Mynnilä was run after Lempää, where Kankkunen damaged his rear wheel. Thus the precious service time was likely not wasted for washing the car. On the following Rajalahti and Hotila stages the door numbers have been cleared again to be visible, which is typically the only washing the cars get until the overnight halts.

Now we have practically narrowed down the possible stages to two – Lempää or Mynnilä. In addition, Kankkunen is driving with an intact rear right wheel on the mystery clip so it cannot be from the end of the Lempää stage where it was damaged.

What else can we see from the mystery clip? Once Salonen arrives to the scene, he’s passing red and yellow countryside buildings upon turning slightly right.

Screen Shot 2020-05-02 at 10.18.30

After this the cars take a slight right onto a small road, but turn immediately tightly left onto the second entry of the triangular junction and return onto the main road.

During Vatanen’s footage after the chicane we can see there’s another road going to the left, as the stage continues straight with another right corner in the distance.

Screen Shot 2020-05-02 at 10.20.45

Now I had to search for this sort of sequence from the map, using the great service for old Finnish maps, . On the following map images, the stage is proceeding Southwards using the red road line.

It didn’t take long to find a candidate from the Lempää stage. However, the farmhouse buildings and the road onto the left were missing.

Screen Shot 2020-05-02 at 10.23.30

A few kilometres later I found another candidate at 9.7 km into the stage. The buildings, right corner, triangular junction, road onto the left, straight, right – everything matched!

Screen Shot 2020-05-02 at 10.24.52

Now I needed to verify my assumption somehow. Google Street View is not available for this location. However, that section was driven in a local rally in 2012 (without the chicane). We can see it at 5:45 on this video.

First there’s the red and yellow farmhouse building. Then at the crest at 5:52 are the two triangular junction entries as well as the road onto the left, and finally the right corner. Bingo! It’s also worth noting that not all maps include anymore the second entry of the triangular junction (and it could have been modified since 1987 anyway).

Screen Shot 2020-05-02 at 10.31.07

Finally, the 1987 spectator guide confirms also this assumption – it says there are chicanes on the stage from 8.4 km to 10 km. There’s also a junction soon after this place, meaning that it’s reasonable for the film crew to walk only about 450 metres on the stage to shoot this footage (since not all film crews can use a helicopter).

You could say this is a lot of fuss for one ancient chicane, but I enjoy doing this!

Here are some other of my listings from videos I have done earlier.

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