WRC event in three days – case Rally Finland 2020

Lately there has been a lot of talk about cutting the costs of WRC, especially in the exceptional times of COVID-19. Shortening the events by one day has been one suggested solution. Here is an example how Rally Finland 2020 could have been made one day shorter.

Cover image by Richard Simpson / Flickr (C)

The current rallies run from Thursday to Sunday. Thursday provides the shakedown on the morning and a super special on the evening. Friday and Saturday are full days of driving, typically created by driving a loop of stages (max 80 km) twice with a service in between. Sunday is then a half-long day with the televised power stage set to start at 1 PM.

My idea is to take out Thursday altogether, move the shakedown to Friday morning and start the rally on Friday afternoon. This way, we can cram in almost all of the 300 stage kilometres driven in today’s rallies. It just requires some creative thinking and maximizing all possible stage lengths.

We have already heard what the rally organizers think about shorter events, but it’s still worth looking in practice how this could be implemented. Unfortunately Rally Finland 2020 had to be canceled already, but we can use its route as an example to modify it to be one day shorter. By making this blog post, I’m not claiming the rally could have avoided cancellation through shortening, I’m only using the itinerary as an example to keep it as realistic as possible.

Friday

In this short format the Friday route runs from the afternoon to the evening. It allows only one leg of stages to be driven. Typically twice-driven stages are more economical in many ways, so we should be looking at a structure where two stages are repeated within the loop. We could also add a third stage to be driven once in between. There’s also the option of running a leg of stages on Friday and repeating them on Sunday, but that’s not as economical as repeating during the same day.

I would propose a structure where two forest stages are first driven once and then repeated after the evening super special. This could also create opportunities for night stages, although not that easily in Finland in July. The rally would start early in the afternoon, leaving enough space between the shakedown and the ceremonial start.

We could use the 2020 Rally Finland Friday opening stages Laukaa and Ruuhimäki, augmented with a single run of Lankamaa. This together with the one run of Harju super special would give us 71 km of stages for Friday.

Saturday

Saturday could be as it is, but the leg length was planned to be only about 70 km long, whereas 80 would be permitted. The most simple way to maximize it would be to exchange the short Arvaja stage for a longer one.

The Sahloinen-Moksi stage from the original Friday itinerary would be now available to use on Saturday. However, the beginning would have be shortened to suit approaching from another direction. Thus it would be driven the same way as 2010 Surkee.

Obviously, there are numerous ways to increase the Saturday kilometres. We could make any of the three stages longer or choose other substitutes, as there is plenty to choose from.

Sunday

For Sunday, there are again numerous options. The original route had Oittila driven twice, but we could augment the section with another stage driven once or even twice. There is 50 minutes of regrouping between the two runs of Oittila and the morning service starts only at 7:25 so there’s plenty of time. There’s again numerous options for a stage in the area, but I’m proposing Vartiamäki from 1997, a rather technical stage with a spectator-friendly rallycross track detour.

For this plan I would keep the original idea of the 8 km Laajavuori power stage. Similarly, it would be run once already at the end of Saturday. This version of Sunday would make up 72 km of stages, and the total length of rally would be at 299 km.

Conclusion

We can see that it’s possible to remove one day of the current rally format without losing that much of the competitive action. However, as Kai Tarkiainen said in the earlier interview on this blog, it would become quite rushed and things like fan meet-ups would be compromised. It’s also questionable whether this could be managed on all other rallies with geographical challenges.

Appendix

RallyFinland3Days

Friday Length Note Target time Car #1 due
Shakedown Vesala 4.04 km 9:01
Start Paviljonki 1:15 13:43
SS1 Lankamaa 23.44 km driven as 2014 1:10 14:58
SS2 Laukaa 1 11.75 km 1:00 16:08
SS3 Ruuhimäki 1 11.12 km 1:00 17:08
SS4 Harju 2.31 km 0:20 18:08
Light Fitting Zone Paviljonki 1:10 18:28
SS5 Laukaa 2 11.75 km 1:00 19:38
SS6 Ruuhimäki 2 11.12 km 0:50 20:38
Service Paviljonki 21:28
Day total 71.49 km
Saturday
Service Paviljonki 1:43 6:29
SS7 Pihlajakoski 14.42 km 1:03 8:12
SS8 Päijälä 22.87 km 1:03 9:15
SS9 Kakaristo 18.70 km 1:20 10:18
SS10 Surkee 19.65 km driven as 2010 0:49 11:38
Service Paviljonki 2:26 12:27
SS11 Pihlajakoski 2 14.42 km 1:03 14:53
SS12 Päijälä 2 22.87 km 1:03 15:56
SS13 Kakaristo 2 18.70 km 1:20 16:59
SS14 Surkee 2 19.65 km 0:49 18:19
SS15 Laajavuori 1 4.19 km 0:35 19:08
Service Paviljonki 19:43
Day total 155.47 km
Sunday
Service Paviljonki 1:10 6:59
SS16 Vartiamäki 1 12.60 km driven as 1997 0:45 8:09
SS17 Oittila 1 19.34 km 1:00 8:54
Regroup Tammijärvi 0:45 9:54
SS18 Vartiamäki 2 12.60 km 0:45 10:39
SS19 Oittila 2 19.34 km 1:14 11:24
Regroup Laajavuori 0:40 12:38
SS20 Laajavuori 2 8.68 km 13:18
Day total 72.56 km
Total 299.52 km

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