Leading drivers from the FIA World Rally Championship have given their approval to the Neste Rally Finland route changes for 2018.
Event organisers have blended the traditional wide, high-speed blasts with more narrow sections in an effort to reduce the outright pace.
“The key word is smaller roads not slower roads because it’s Finland at the end of the day and it’s still fast,” said Citroën works driver Craig Breen, a podium finisher in Jyväskylä in 2016. “Of course you don’t have the really wide, fast and open stages like Ouninpohja but you have those sections in every stage but also some narrow parts. But it’s still really, really fast and, to be honest, in the narrow parts the feeling and understanding of speed feels higher so it’s as enjoyable as ever. It’s just a question of how rough the roads will get because narrower roads generally get a bit more rutted on the second pass.”
M-Sport’s one-time Neste Rally Finland winner Sébastien Ogier said: “Some sections are very narrow with a lot of loose gravel and the fact the roads are more narrow makes it a little bit more challenging. But I like it, it’s still really fast and because it’s on more narrow roads it means the room for mistakes is even smaller.”
Jari-Matti Latvala, who has three Neste Rally Finland victories on his CV, said: “They are smaller roads this year but they are not uncharacteristic of this rally because we used to do small roads in the past. Last year we had the chicanes, which wasn’t ideal for this rally, but overall I think the road looks good how the small roads combine with the big roads. They are pretty hard and shouldn’t break up too much and knowing the weather is like this it should keep the roads in a good condition.”