Last year’s Neste Rally Finland, the Finnish round of the FIA World Rally Championship, had a Finnish winner and a great financial result too. Before this year’s rally, the event organiser AKK Sports Ltd, the marketing company fully owned by the Finnish national sporting authority AKK-Motorsport ry, were cautiously hopeful – and now again positively surprised. Even without Finnish victory, Rally Finland was once again an all-round success.
Due to the fact that approximately 65% of the rally route was new, all sorts of things could have happened, even with proper planning and preparations. Nevertheless, everything went smoothly and the new route was praised by the competitors and spectators alike. Especially the Ruuhimäki special stage, also the final stage of the entire rally, was hugely popular, says Neste Rally Finland Promoter Jani Backman.
A special stadium had been built as stage finish of Ruuhimäki, located in the municipality of Laukaa, and some thousand spectators were gasping in awe whilst watching the 60-metre-long final jumps. Even “rally veterans” who have seen it all were raving about the grande finale.
The Championship’s international promoter, the WRC Promoter GmbH, were also extremely pleased about the 2018 Neste Rally Finland.
– Finland is always an exemplary event and this time the organisers went and outdid themselves. Especially Ruuhimäki, the final stage of the rally in Laukaa was an awesome sight. The huge masses of spectators and the fantastic final jump took even us by surprise. One cannot but wonder the Finns’ ability to always bring something new into the rally, enthused Simon Larkin of WRC Promoter.
The Mayor of Laukaa Jaakko Kiiskilä is pleased about the praise.
– It couldn’t have gone any better. This exceeded our expectations and provides a great foundation for the coming years, Kiiskilä said during the prize-giving ceremony, shining brighter than the sun.
His colleague, the Mayor of Jyväskylä Timo Koivisto more than agreed with Kiiskilä.
– Neste Rally Finland is very important for the city in many ways. The photos and images spread all over the world are the best possible PR for this region.
The traditional Harju city special stages driven in the heart of Jyväskylä were once again hugely popular. Like last year, the number of spectators was over 30,000 on the two days the stage was run. Overall, the ticket sales and the number of spectators at this year’s rally are expected to be around the same as last year’s record numbers. The exact figures will be received and revealed later in the autumn.
The approximately 15,000 Estonian rally fans weren’t left disappointed either, as their national hero Ott Tänak won this year’s Neste Rally Finland.
– In 2018, we paid special focus on the Estonian market, and it paid off. Tänak and the great package-deals drew in an even bigger crowd than we had estimated. Next year, we probably have to anticipate an exodus from the Baltic Region. Also, we totally renewed our hospitality arrangements for this year and increased the capacity considerably. This was a very high-quality solution and economically successful, says the CEO of AKK Sports Tatu Lehmuskallio.
Neste Rally Finland is the single most important factor in the economy of the marketing company and a successful event is of great importance for the resourcing of Finnish motorsport in general. AKK receives relatively little public funding, despite of the international success and the scope of their activities – that’s why their own fundraising is extremely important for the sport.