Weather or sauna the winning factor in Finland?

As the crews gather for the start of the Neste Rally Finland, forecasters are predicting four days of changeable weather - but perhaps the vital ingredient for success is a sauna

Weather or sauna the winning factor in Finland?

With so many of the stages changed for this year's event, drivers, co-drivers and teams would have preferred not to have to keep an eye on the elements as well.

Partly cloudy conditions with showers and moderate winds are forecast, with temperatures expected to be around the 16degC mark.

But perhaps it is the sauna that is the vital ingredient for success. Didier Auriol is the only non-Finn to have won here since 1990, his sole victory coming in 1992. Besides that blip, it has been Finnish drivers taking the spoils.

As the sauna in Finland is part of the way of life, perhaps it is these that make the difference. For a country with a population of just 5.2million, Finland has a remarkable 1.5million saunas! They are a feature of most homes and their relaxing and refreshing effects solve most problems. As an old Finnish proverb says: "If sauna, alcohol or tobacco don't help, the disease must be fatal..."

The fastest rally of the World Rally Championship, the Neste Rally Finland combines wide open roads with tricky narrow lanes made of hard compacted earth. And - of course - there are the trademark jumps which make this one of the most challenging events on the calendar.

The event starts at 0831BST on Friday, and you can follow the cars stage-by-stage live here on Autosport.com, with stage times and overall positions.

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