The route of the 1987 1000 Lakes Rally was exceptional with small roads, farmyard detours and chicanes. But could it have been done better with a little help from data and calculations? Can we find stages from the past editions that would have been naturally slow enough for the rally instead of the stuff they came up with?
Cover image by Harri Ukkonen (C)
Here is the background in a nutshell: after Tour de Corse 1986 FISA demanded that no stage should have a higher average speed than 110 km/h, with a 10% tolerance. Four stages had been over than this limit in 1000 Lakes Rally 1986, so FISA threatened to remove the WRC value of the rally, would a similar breach happen again. The organizers took this caution seriously, and wanted to make sure no stage exceeds the limit, even without tolerance.
Thus the route was taken onto very small roads, detours onto houseyards and other additional junctions, or even blatant tyre-pile-chicanes (although some of them were removed at the last minute). No one liked these solutions, not even FISA, who thought a rally with this kind of silly roads should not be worth the WRC value, although no stage for sure exceeded 110 km/h+10% average speed. The organizers admitted soon after the rally that they had exaggerated their efforts. In fact, the rally was slower than in 1973 with relatively primitive RWD cars.
Let’s look at this Finnish video to see how bad it was. At 14:30 we can see a small forest road section on SS16 Lempää followed by a farmyard detour at 14:42 on SS17 Mynnilä. Another farmyard detour appears at 32:32 on SS32 Laitikkala while one of the smallest roads of the whole rally is seen at 35:36 on SS37 Pirttijärvi. (BTW if you have seen the excellent video at VHS Rallies, they have only filmed the fast and wide sections of the rally, giving a wrong idea of the route.)
The route can be seen here at rally-maps.com with chicanes outlined by markers and all kinds of farmyard detours marked as accurately as possible.
If we could go back in time to help the organizers in making the route, could some science assist them making a route which wouldn’t require this kind of extensively small roads or chicanes?
The new cars
As we know, the rally average speed doesn’t depend directly on the route. The cars must be taken into the equation as well (drivers as well, but we can only assume that they go as fast as the cars allow!)
In 1986 the fastest Group A cars were naturally aspirated Audi Coupe Quattros or VW Golf GTIs, which were typically 3-4 s/km slower than the fastest Group B monsters. The turbocharged Lancia Deltas of 1987 would be faster than that, but how much? Now, in hindsight, we know it.
The organizers had to do their job for the 1987 route already in late 1986. They had no data or results from the new 1987 Group A cars. They almost seemed to assume the Group A cars would be just as fast as the Group B monsters, considering how slow the route was made.
Even the first rallies of 1987 didn’t give much data for estimating the pace difference between 1986 and 1987 cars. Conditions change in Monte and Sweden while top drivers had withdrawn from Portugal 1986. However, latter rallies seem to confirm something. It appears that 1987 Group A cars were roughly 95% as quick as 1986 Group B cars.
|Sweden||Bredsjön||101.40 km/h||96.34 km/h||0.9501|
|Sweden||Malta||110.63 km/h||107.19 km/h||0.9689|
|Tour de Corse||Moriani Plage – Orsoni||84.34 km/h||79.96 km/h||0.9481|
|Tour de Corse||Petreto – Aullene||93.04 km/h||86.96 km/h||0.9347|
|Acropolis||Asopia||102.84 km/h||96.80 km/h||0.9413|
|Acropolis||Bauxite Way||106.56 km/h||100.44 km/h||0.9426|
|Argentina||Tanti – Cosquin||111.88 km/h||108.88 km/h||0.9732|
|Argentina||Las Bajadas – Villa Del Dique||100.22 km/h||92.39 km/h||0.9219|
So, in order to find 1000 Lakes Rally stages which would be 110 km/h at most on 1987 cars we should find stages whose average speed in 1986 was at most 110 km/h x 0.95 = 115.79 km/h. There’s plenty of them since most of the 1986 stages were also made slower to stay below 120 km/h with the Group B monsters.
|Valkeakoski||3.20 km||91.43 km/h|
|Konivuori||15.49 km||92.48 km/h|
|Laajavuori||3.95 km||99.44 km/h|
|Kavala||5.28 km||99.52 km/h|
|Krääkkiö||10.00 km||100.28 km/h|
|Ekojärvi||22.23 km||100.92 km/h|
|Pöykky||11.82 km||101.56 km/h|
|Kaipolanvuori||5.14 km||102.80 km/h|
|Väärinmaja||12.02 km||103.27 km/h|
|Pengonpohja||7.91 km||103.93 km/h|
|Ohtinen||6.50 km||104.00 km/h|
|Sarvana||6.48 km||104.61 km/h|
|Huhtia||5.43 km||105.10 km/h|
|Vahonen||16.31 km||107.93 km/h|
|Sahloinen||7.56 km||108.00 km/h|
|Juupajoki||10.63 km||108.10 km/h|
|Harju||2.00 km||109.09 km/h|
|Raitoo||8.94 km||109.84 km/h|
|Murole||7.16 km||110.63 km/h|
|Pentinmaa||16.90 km||111.84 km/h|
|Maso||7.92 km||113.14 km/h|
|Mattila||10.90 km||113.41 km/h|
|Koivulahti||9.41 km||113.68 km/h|
|Laitikkala||5.14 km||114.22 km/h|
|Ouninpohja||7.38 km||114.52 km/h|
|Kuohu||4.83 km||115.15 km/h|
|Pirttijärvi||6.66 km||115.27 km/h|
We have a good start, but not enough for a whole rally. We should instead look into the three previous editions as well. The cars have progressed constantly, and to estimate this factor, we should look into stages that have been run throughout these years in comparable conditions.
Sadly many of the 1986 stages were varied (and in fact stages like Urria and Päijälä only seemed to have slow sections removed) and cannot be compared. Furthermore, the whole Southern loop was driven overnight in the dark in 1985 so the times are a lot slower and thus comparison not reasonable. However, there’s a couple of stages that help us estimating the factor.
|Päijälä||121.66 km/h*||116.38 km/h||115.03 km/h||113.35 km/h|
|Mattila||113.41 km/h*||114.72 km/h||112.00 km/h||110.04 km/h|
|Sahloinen||108.00 km/h||104.68 km/h||102.32 km/h||102.99 km/h|
|Urria||126.00 km/h*||121.63 km/h||120.15 km/h||119.10 km/h|
|Ouninpohja||**||125.16 km/h||122.24 km/h||118.98 km/h|
|Myhinpää||–||125.68 km/h||124.43 km/h||121.34 km/h|
|Ehikki***||123.79 km/h||119.40 km/h||117.95 km/h||116.91 km/h|
|Painaa||117.44 km/h||116.65 km/h|
**=Ouninpohja was drastically shortened for 1986, with only last 7 km of 1985 driven.
***=Ehikki had multiple versions but each year included a “no junctions” version.
Based on these figures we can estimate that cars in 1985 have been 0.97 times fast as in 1986, so it should be applied our average speed limit of 115.79 km/h as well, so we can choose from any 1985 stages below 112.89 km/h.
In turn, same ratios for 1984 and 1983 can be calculated both comparing directly to 1986 or comparing to 1985 with the 0.97 ratio applied on top. Thus we can get average speed limits of 110.46 km/h for 1984 and 108.96 km/h for 1983 (this indicates that the 1987 cars were faster than the 1983 ones!).
However, these are just estimates and the deeper to history we go, the more unreliable they are. For example Pihlajakoski can be seen as too fast based on 1985 and 1984, but in 1983 the stage has been 20 seconds slower for some reason (could also be a statistical error). Also, sometimes conditions of the stage (rain, darkness) affect the speed, as well as the situation in the rally – in the beginning everyone goes at full speed, whereas towards the end it might be more cautious.
|1985||Huhtia||7.88 km||102.78 km/h|
|1985||Väärinmaja||6.23 km||103.35 km/h|
|1985||Kuohu||6.54 km||105.11 km/h|
|1985||Iso-Evo||7.60 km||105.23 km/h|
|1985||Evo||4.51 km||106.12 km/h|
|1985||Hursti||8.28 km||106.46 km/h|
|1985||Torittu||7.78 km||108.56 km/h|
|1985||Pöykky||3.77 km||108.58 km/h|
|1985||Maso||10.42 km||108.73 km/h|
|1985||Kostila||6.29 km||108.87 km/h|
|1985||Ruuhimäki||9.55 km||109.49 km/h|
|1985||Välkkilä||11.15 km||110.58 km/h|
|1985||Perämaa||5.97 km||111.36 km/h|
|1985||Kuukanpää||4.34 km||111.60 km/h|
|1985||Hassi||11.70 km||112.62 km/h|
|1984||Pohtola||5.64 km||91.46 km/h|
|1984||Ohtinen||14.07 km||95.21 km/h|
|1984||Tyrynkylä||6.92 km||97.31 km/h|
|1984||Mäkrä||5.49 km||102.40 km/h|
|1984||Terälahti||6.77 km||102.40 km/h|
|1984||Kuukanpää||4.91 km||103.37 km/h|
|1984||Savo||7.96 km||103.45 km/h|
|1984||Koivukehä||7.16 km||104.78 km/h|
|1984||Toikkala||9.45 km||105.98 km/h|
|1984||Onkemäki||17.64 km||106.91 km/h|
|1984||Huhtia||10.13 km||108.21 km/h|
|1984||Lastunen||3.82 km||108.28 km/h|
|1984||Alajoki||6.42 km||109.02 km/h|
|1983||Kovalanmäki||2.00 km||66.06 km/h|
|1983||Kalasaari||8.85 km||99.87 km/h|
|1983||Onkemäki||9.04 km||91.93 km/h|
|1983||Autio||5.03 km||100.04 km/h|
|1983||Juupajoki||11.43 km||103.13 km/h|
|1983||Pölläkkä||5.63 km||103.94 km/h|
First route draft
Putting the aforementioned stages onto the map gives an idea where our event should go. Most of the stages are situated far South-West, like on the 1986 and 1987 events.
In 1985 the Southern leg around Tampere was driven in endurance form on a 24 hour non-stop leg, whereas in 1986 they held a remote night break in Tampere. The actual 1987 event didn’t have a remote night break, but including that in our plan would make it more likely to succeed.
Using the stages we have, we can start making a draft of the route with a structure similar to 1986, with the first leg going South and stopping at Tampere for the remote night break, second leg going back to Jyväskylä and the shorter third leg South-West mostly repeating stages from the previous legs.
The actual 1987 route was four days long, and we should do it as well, by using the stages East of Jyväskylä for a short Thursday leg. In addition, we’re stretching the Friday leg to be a full day instead of just from evening to midnight, so we have to add stages in the South to extend the leg.
Some stages must be left out since there are often two or more options to go from A to B and some stages are too far from our route outline. We must also make some decisions to balance the lengths of the legs and sometimes reverse or choose an older version of a stage.
|THURSDAY TOTAL||34.01 km|
|SS3||Laajavuori 1||3.95 km||1986|
|SS4||Pöykky 1||11.82 km||1986|
|SS6||Ouninpohja 1||7.38 km||1986|
|FRIDAY TOTAL||101.30 km|
|SS25||Hursti 1||8.28 km||1985|
|SS26||Väärinmaja 1||6.23 km||1985|
|SS27||Kavala 1||5.28 km||1986|
|SS28||Kaipolanvuori 1||5.14 km||1986|
|SS29||Huhtia 1||5.43 km||1986|
|SATURDAY TOTAL||138.94 km|
|SS31||Laajavuori 2||3.95 km||1986|
|SS32||Pöykky 2||11.82 km||1986|
|SS33||Ouninpohja 2||7.38 km||1986|
|SS35||Hursti 2||8.28 km||1985|
|SS36||Väärinmaja 2||6.23 km||1985|
|SS37||Kavala 2||5.28 km||1986|
|SS38||Kaipolanvuori 2||5.14 km||1986|
|SS39||Huhtia 2||5.43 km||1986|
|SUNDAY TOTAL||78.24 km|
|RALLY TOTAL||352.49 km|
Augmenting the route
This route is too short at only 352 km and there are considerable gaps between stages. The Thursday leg is the biggest problem with only a handful of stages and nothing suitable in the proximity. Most of the stages on the North-East side of Jyväskylä like Kalliokoski and Myhinpää are just too fast.
My suggestion is to use the actual 1987 stages to fill up the route, but the most reasonable ones with no silly small roads or chicanes. In the end, every edition of the rally has had some new stages, so why not allow this version to have some as well.
The Thursday leg should include stages of the actual 1987 Friday loop such as Lempää, Vartiamäki and Soimaharju. Lempää and Vartiamäki had one or two chicanes each but we simply ignore them, as the stages should work without them. We could also throw in Ruuhipirtti (aka Omega Torvinen) if we change Ruuhimäki to be the 1987 version. Now we have 9 stages, 75 km and the longest stage is 17 km long.
On Friday (and Sunday) the biggest gap occurs after Pöykky. The 1987 route offers Tuohikotanen, Leustu, Vaheri, Rapsula and Arvaja. However, Rapsula is doubtful as the stage had 118 km/h average speed in 1986 and the 1987 version had chicanes. We could likely make the 1986 stage suitable by cutting the last 2 km of flat out driving. Arvaja and Leustu should also be usable. Vaheri can be added into the end of Saturday to replace the first run of Huhtia.
We seem to have a lot of short stages so we need to start combining them in order to get some longer ones and reduce stage count. We can combine Hursti and Väärinmaja together for a 14 km stage. Also we can connect 1985 Hassi and 1986 Konivuori for a 19 km stage (which is actually similar to the 1987 Konivuori stage).
We can also use a longer version of Kostila, with some small roads in the West, driven in 1982 in the opposite direction. Further augmentations onto the draft are the 1987 Päijälä on Friday evening and 1981 Rutajärvi for Sunday.
The route we get has 52 stages like the actual 1987 rally, but is 20 km shorter at 487 km. The longest stage is Ekojärvi at 22 km, and it’s the only stage over 20 km in length. The lack of long stages is apparent.
|THURSDAY TOTAL||75.91 km|
|SS10||Laajavuori 1||3.95 km||1986|
|SS11||Pöykky 1||11.82 km||1986|
|SS12||Leustu 1||13.30 km||1987|
|SS15||Ouninpohja 1||7.38 km||1986|
|FRIDAY TOTAL||149.04 km|
|SS35||Väärinmaja 1||14.32 km||***|
|SS36||Kavala 1||5.28 km||1986|
|SS37||Kaipolanvuori 1||5.14 km||1986|
|SATURDAY TOTAL||150.53 km|
|SS40||Laajavuori 2||3.95 km||1986|
|SS41||Pöykky 2||11.82 km||1986|
|SS42||Leustu 2||13.30 km||1987|
|SS44||Ouninpohja 2||7.38 km||1986|
|SS47||Väärinmaja 2||14.32 km||***|
|SS48||Kavala 2||5.28 km||1986|
|SS49||Kaipolanvuori 2||5.14 km||1986|
|SUNDAY TOTAL||112.05 km|
|RALLY TOTAL||487.53 km|
We can see now that in theory it would have been possible to create a more flowing route without chicanes or super small roads and still obey FISA’s average speed limit. Of course in practice the organizers didn’t have the same kind of data and computing power as I have on my laptop (or smart phone), and like I said they didn’t have any data about the speed of the 1987 cars when designing the route. And we also took some liberty in including a few 1987 stages which actually had chicanes on them.
Using the 1986 route as it was would have probably been a good solution as well. Even in 1988 many stages were still under 110 km/h with improved cars and more laidback route (and mostly good weather!), although many stages were now longer and combined different road types with more junction turns.
In turn, I’m sure that if the organizers had known how slow the Group A cars will be in 1987, they wouldn’t have made the route as dreadfully slow as it was.
But this all is just hindsight. And an interesting science project.