WRC Rally Finland: Everything you need to know

Finland’s ultra fast gravel roads provide the next stop on the 2022 World Rally Championship schedule this weekend.

WRC Rally Finland: Everything you need to know

Rally Finland’s blend of high-speed smooth gravel roads punctuated with blind crests and jumps is one of the toughest challenges on the calendar, and a rally, drivers are desperate to conquer.

After scoring a stunning fifth win of the season in Estonia, home hero Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera is exported to be the hot favourite to continue his winning streak on familiar soil.

The 21-year-old Finn crashed out of last year’s event but will be eager to deliver a first home win for Finland’s army of rally fans since team-mate Esapekka Lappi’s triumph in 2017.

Rovanpera holds a commanding 83 point lead over Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville at the top of the standings, and a sixth win of the year would see him move a step closer to becoming the youngest ever world champion.

Rovanpera is set to face strong competition from both within the Toyota stable and from rival teams Hyundai and M-Sport-Ford.

Toyota’s Elfyn Evans produced arguably the drive of his career to date to win the 2021 edition of Rally Finland proving the Welshman is comfortable and fast on the Finnish gravel. Likewise, the third Toyota GR Yaris driven by Lappi, a previous Finland winner, is expected to be competitive.

Two-time Rally Finland winner Ott Tanak is likely to lead Hyundai’s charge. The 2019 world champion finished third last time out at his home event in Estonia held on similar gravel roads. Tanak finished second in Finland 12 months ago ahead of then stablemate and now M-Sport team leader Craig Breen.

Breen has proven to be fast on open gravel rallies and after crashing out of Estonia last month, the Irishman will be keen to arrest his recent form.

Alongside its entries for Gus Greensmith, Adrien Fourmaux and Pierre-Louis Loubet, M-Sport will hand a Rally1 debut to young Finnish hotshot Jari Huttunen as the British squad aims to evaluate its WRC2 driver in top level machinery.

Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Photo by: Toyota Racing

What is Rally Finland?

Rally Finland, previously known as the 1000 Lakes Rally, is regarded as one of the World Rally Championship’s most prestigious events and has been a mainstay of the WRC since its inaugural season in 1973. The event’s only absence from the WRC was in 2020 following its cancellation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The rally has however been in existence since 1951 when it was held as a qualifier event for the Monte Carlo Rally. Traditionally the rally headquarters are based in Jyväskylä, Finland’s third largest city based 270km north of capital Helsinki.

Rally Finland is the fastest event on the WRC calendar, held on smooth gravel roads, featuring blind crests and big jumps. It has been dubbed the “Grand Prix on Gravel”.

Rally Finland winners

Rally Finland has been dominated by Scandinavian born drivers over its 70 year history, to the extent that only eight drivers from outside the region have conquered the event. Carlos Sainz was the first driver to achieve this in 1990, driving for Toyota. The Spaniard has since been followed by Didier Auriol (1992), Markko Martin (2003), Sebastien Loeb (2008, 2011-2012), Sebastien Ogier (2013), Kris Meeke (2016), Ott Tanak (2018-2019) and Elfyn Evans (2021).

The inaugural event was won by Finn Arvo Karlsson in 1951, driving an Austin Atlantic. Fellow compatriots, two-time world champion Marcus Gronholm (2000-2002, 2004-2007) and 1983 world champion Hannu Mikkola (1968-1970, 1974-1975, 1982-1983) share the record for most wins with seven each.

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Photo by: Vincent Thuillier / Hyundai Motorsport

Rally Finland itinerary

This year’s edition will be contested over 22 stages, comprising 322.61km across four days of competitive action.

Thursday 4 August (1 stage - 3.48km)

Shakedown - begins 0701 BST - 0901 local

Stage 1 Super Special Harju- begins 1708 BST - 1908 local

Friday 5 August (9 stages - 128.39km)

Stage 2 - Stage 10 - begins 0600 BST - 0800 local

Saturday 6 August (8 stages - 150.30km)

Stage 11 - Stage 18 - begins 0608 BST - 0808 local

Sunday 7 August (4 stages - 43.92km)

Stage 19 - Stage 22 - Final stage begins 1118 BST - 1318 local

Craig Breen, Paul Nagle, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Craig Breen, Paul Nagle, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Rally Finland Entry List (Rally1) - Road order

Rally Finland will feature 45 entries headlined by 12 Rally1 cars, including Finnish hotshot Jari Huttunen, who will make his Rally1 debut.

#69 Kalle Rovanpera/Jonne Halttunen - Toyota Gazoo Racing - GR Yaris Rally1
#11 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe - Hyundai Motorsport - i20 N Rally1
#33 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin - Toyota Gazoo Racing - GR Yaris Rally1
#8 Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja - Hyundai Motorsport - i20 N Rally1
#18 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston - Toyota Gazoo Racing - GR Yaris Rally1
#42 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle - M-Sport Ford World Rally Team - Puma Rally1
#44 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson - M-Sport Ford World Rally Team - Puma Rally1
#4 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm- Toyota Gazoo Racing - GR Yaris Rally1
#7 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landis - M-Sport Ford World Rally Team - Puma Rally1
#2 Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson - Hyundai Motorsport - i20 N Rally1
#16 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria - M-Sport Ford World Rally Team - Puma Rally1
#68 Jari Huttunen/Mikko Lukka - M-Sport Ford World Rally Team - Puma Rally1

The field also includes former Hyundai factory WRC driver Hayden Paddon, who will join the WRC2 class in a Rally2 i20 N. The WRC2 entry list also features Sami Pajari, who is stepping up from the Junior WRC.

What’s new for WRC in 2022?

This year sis the introduction of new Rally1 regulations designed to move the WRC into a much more sustainable future and to attract new manufacturers. They have resulted in Hyundai, Toyota and M-Sport Ford designing and building all-new cars around a new safer, steel spaceframe chassis.

The biggest change to the cars is the introduction of a mandatory 100kW hybrid unit coupled to the 1.6-litre turbocharged internal combustion engine, the only key component carried over from the previous generation of cars. In tandem, this will allow the powertrain to develop 500bhp to be used in short bursts across every stage.

Cars will be up 70kg heavier than their predecessors, this is mainly due to the addition of the hybrid system. In total, Rally1 machines will weigh in at approximately 1260kg.

The new regulations have effectively abolished extra aerodynamic devices such as wings and flicks being added to the bodywork outside of the front splitter and rear wing. The overall downforce created and its effect on the car has been reduced by approximately 15% compared to the previous generation of vehicle.

Trick centre differentials used to fine tune handling are now banned in favour of a simpler front and rear mechanical limited-slip differentials offering a fixed 50:50 toque split between the front and rear wheels. Suspension travel has been reduced to 270mm.

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Photo by: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport

How does the Rally1 hybrid system work?

Drivers will have the use hybrid power during every stage, with power boosts activated by the throttle pedal, while further boosts will be unlocked through energy regeneration under braking during stages.

Pilots will be required to regenerate 30 kilojoules of energy before another boost is granted that will be used the next time they touch the throttle pedal.

The extra 130 horsepower is delivered through the use of three bespoke homologated engine maps selected by teams, depending on the type of stage and conditions.

Determined by the FIA and event organisers, drivers will be required to navigate parts of road sections and around event service parks in full electric mode.

In full electric mode the car has a range of 20km, while its 3.9KWH battery, operating up to 750 volts, can be plugged in and recharged in the service park within 30 minutes. The hybrid unit can withstand an impact of 70G.

The cars are powered by a 100% sustainable fuel.

How can I follow Rally Finland

Autosport will be providing reports, interviews and reaction.

Motorsport.tv will also have regular highlights both during and after each WRC round in 2022.

Pay television

WRC Plus All Live will provide live coverage from every stage.

BT Sport will live action and provide daily highlights shows from every event this season.

Free to air television UK

ITV4 will broadcast highlights on Tuesday 9 August.

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Photo by: Toyota Racing

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