*Flat-out action in store for World Rally Championship’s best drivers
*Overhauled route and autumnal weather provide an additional challenge
*Rovanperä leads the quest for home glory on high-speed gravel roads
*Finns also in contention for success in WRC2 and WRC3 categories
The fastest rally in the world returns next week when the famous forests of central Finland host the 70th edition of what began life as the Jyväskylän Suurajot back in 1951 but will take place from October 1-3 as Secto Automotive Rally Finland, round 10 of the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship.
Based in the city of Jyväskylä, Secto Automotive Rally Finland features three days of high-speed action on a significantly altered route compared to when the event last ran in 2019.
Indeed, of the stages returning from two years ago, only Harju, Laukaa and Ruuhimäki are unchanged. This is in keeping with the continued efforts of organiser AKK Sports to provide a fresh challenge for the world’s best rally drivers and spectacle for the fans watching on the stages and live on television and online across the globe.
Although Secto Automotive Rally Finland started out as an autumn event in 1951, it is far better known as a summer rally, making the switch to the autumn for 2021 a step into the unknown for the drivers and teams. They will have to adapt to colder temperatures ambient and ground temperatures and the increased possibility of damp surfaces and inclement weather.
Secto Automotive Rally Finland takes place at a hugely exciting time for Finnish motorsport following young star Kalle Rovanperä’s second WRC victory on EKO Acropolis Rally of Gods in Greece earlier this month. The Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT driver, who is co-driven by Jonne Halttunen, turns 21 on October 1 and will enjoy an enthusiastic following from the home fans.
Other Finns set to fly high include Esapekka Lappi, the Rally Finland winner in 2017 who returns to the sport’s top level in a Toyota Yaris WRC, WRC2 contenders Jari Huttunen and Teemu Suninen, plus WRC3 drivers Mikko Heikkilä, Teemu Asunmaa and Emil Lindholm. Lauri Joona, AKK’s Flying Finn Future Star winner for 2021, is also on the entry.
To mark the 70th anniversary, Secto Automotive, a reinventor of the traditional car leasing industry, becomes title sponsor. It’s a huge opportunity for both AKK Sports and Secto Automotive. Established in 2007, Secto Automotive has 2000 corporate clients and a fleet of 5000 vehicles, of which a number are electric, making it Finland’s leading privately owned leasing company. And for more than a decade, Secto Automotive has helped thousands of companies transition towards more responsible and easy transportation.
Starts: 13:07, Friday October 1
Finishes: 14:15, Sunday October 3
Base: Paviljonki, Jyväskylä, Finland
Eligibility: Round 10, 2021 FIA World Rally Championship (includes WRC2 and WRC3)
Special stages: 19
Special stage distance: 287.11 kilometres
Liaison distance: 772.53 kilometres
Total distance: 1059.64 kilometres
Weather: With the ambient temperature unlikely to peak above 10 degrees centigrade, the possibility of morning frost, rain showers and cloudy conditions will make for an unfamiliar Rally Finland feeling
Although the action will be contained over three days rather than the traditional four, organisers AKK Sports are not compromising on the challenge on offer to the crews, nor the entertainment available to the fans by delivering an exciting and packed itinerary.
Day one: Friday October 1
Stages: 6 (SS1-6) Stage distance: 89.42 km Liaison distance: 201.01 km Total distance: 292.43 km Sunset/sunrise: 07:24 / 18:48
Shakedown is up first from 08:01 local time on Friday October 1, utilising the same Vesala stage from 2019 but run in the opposite direction. Following the start at the Paviljonki in Jyväskylä, the legendary Harju city stage, the rally’s shortest at 2.31 kilometres, marks the beginning of the battle for victory from 13:30. Crews head southwest of Jyväskylä for two runs through Ässämäki (12.31 kilometres, SS2/SS4), which was used in the opposite direction in 2019, are scheduled either side of the first pass of Sahloinen-Moksi (21.37 kilometres). Following a Tyre Fitting Zone and remote refuel in Petäjävesi, a second visit to Sahloinen-Moksi (SS5), which includes sections unused since 2010, is scheduled from 17:58. The 19.75-kilometre Oittila test (SS6) east of Päijänne completes the 89.42-kilometre leg one itinerary from 19:00 and will run in the dark.
Day two: Saturday October 2
Stages: 9 (SS7-15) Stage distance: 151.95 km Liaison distance: 422.21 km Total distance: 574.16 km Sunset/sunrise: 07:27 / 18:44
Leg two, located south of Jyväskylä and the longest of the rally at 151.95 kilometres, is made up of four stages either side of service at the Paviljonki followed by a return to Harju at 20:00. The day begins with the first of two passes of the 18.17-kilometre Kakaristo-Hassi stage (SS7/SS11) from 08:16. Featuring sections of the iconic Ouninpohja stage, Kakaristo-Hassi gets a new start and finish with the latter last used in 2011. Päijälä (SS8/SS12) ran to a similar layout in 2016 and covers 22.61 kilometres. Sections of the new 13.49-kilometre Arvaja test (SS9/SS13) date back to 1994. Patajoki (SS10/SS14) is another new stage, although parts of the 20.55-kilometre run through narrow and technical forestry roads, appeared on the itinerary between 2002 and 2010 as part of the familiar Vaher and Himos stages.
Day three: Sunday October 3
Stages: 4 (SS16-19) Stage distance: 45.74 km Liaison distance: 147.31 km Total distance: 193.05 km Sunset/sunrise: 07:30 / 18:41
The battle for Rally Finland glory takes crews north of Jyväskylä for the 11.75-kilometre Laukaa test (SS16/SS18) with the second run of Ruuhimäki (SS17/SS19) forming the points-paying Wolf Power Stage from 13:18. Located east of the host city, Ruuhimäki is 11.12 kilometres in length and finishes at the spectacular Laukaa-Arena where the podium ceremony will be held. Along with Harju, Laukaa and Ruuhimäki are the only parts of the route unchanged from 2019.
A star-studded line-up will assemble for Secto Automotive Rally Finland with no fewer than 43 crews entered, including 10 in headlining World Rally Cars, three former Rally Finland winners plus WRC champions past and present
Representing Finland-based Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT are Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia, Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin, Finnish pair Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen and Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston. A fifth Toyota Yaris WRC has been entered under the RTE-Motorsport banner for Finns Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm. Ogier/Ingrassia and Lappi/Ferm are one-time Rally Finland winners.
Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team can count on Thierry Neuville/Martin Wydaeghe, Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja and Craig Breen/Paul Nagle to drive its trio of Hyundai i20 Coupe WRCs with Tänak/Järveoja vying to win their third Rally Finland.
Gus Greensmith/Chris Patterson and Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria form the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team attack in Ford Fiesta WRCs.
Reigning champions Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen head the WRC2 entry on Secto Automotive Rally Finland in a Citroën C3 Rally2. The category also includes entries for 2020 WRC3 title winners and Finnish pair Jari Huttunen/Mikko Lukka, Junior WRC champion Tom Kristensson and his co-driver David Arhusiander in a Ford Fiesta Rally2, plus former ERC1 Junior champions Nikolay Gryazin and Oliver Solberg, who will be partnered by Konstanin Aleksandrov and Craig Drew respectively. Huttunen and Solberg are both entered in the all-new Hyundai i20 N Rally2, while Finns Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula partner Gryazin/Aleksandrov at Finnish team Printsport, which is overseeing the two Movisport Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 entries.
Fourteen crews are set for WRC3 action on Secto Automotive Rally Finland. Mikko Heikkilä, the current Finnish championship leader, 2020 champion Teemu Asunmaa and last season’s runner-up Emil Lindholm are among several homegrown aces bidding for success. Lauri Joona, the 2020 AKK Flying Finn Future Star, will step up to Rally2 level for the first time when he contests his home round of WRC3 in a Škoda Fabia. Finn Eerik Pietarinen, who won WRC2 on Rally Finland in 2018, Spain’s Pepe López and Brazilian Paulo Nobre are also entered in the class.
Australian Molly Taylor, a frontrunner in the Extreme E all-electric off-road series, continues her WRC campaign in a Ford Fiesta Rally3. The Rally3 category is new for 2021 and provides a more accessible opportunity to compete in a four-wheel-drive car. The Fiesta Rally3 made its debut on the SM O.K. Auto-Ralli back in March and Taylor is one of the sport’s leading female drivers.
The full Secto Automotive Rally Finland entry list is available HERE. The top 15 crews according to their seeding appear below:
No Driver (NAT)/Co-driver (NAT) Car
1 Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Toyota Yaris WRC
33 Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Scott Martin (GBR) Toyota Yaris WRC
11 Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
69 Kalle Rovanperä (FIN)/Jonne Halttunen (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC
8 Ott Tänak (EST)/Martin Järveoja (EST) Hyundai i20 Coupe
18 Takamoto Katsuta (JPN)/Aaron Johnston (IRL) Toyota Yaris WRC
42 Craig Breen (IRL)/Paul Nagle (IRL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
44 Gus Greensmith (GBR)/Chris Patterson (IRL) Ford Fiesta WRC
16 Adrien Fourmaux (FRA)/Alexandre Coria (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC
4 Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC
20 Mads Østberg (NOR)/Torstein Eriksen (NOR) Citroën C3 Rally2
21 Jari Huttunen (FIN)/Mikko Lukka (FIN) Hyundai i20 N Rally2
22 Nikolay Gryazin (RAF)/Konstantin Aleksandrov (RAF) Volkswagen Polo GTI R5
23 Teemu Suninen (FIN)/Mikko Markkula (FIN) Volkswagen Polo GTI R5
24 Martin Prokop (CZE)/Michal Ernst (CZE) Ford Fiesta Rally2
Selected Finnish crews:
30 Mikko Heikkilä (FIN)/Topi Luhtinen (FIN) Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo
31 Teemu Asunmaa (FIN)/Markko Salminen (FIN) Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo
32 Emil Lindholm (FIN)/Reeta Hämäläinen (FIN) Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo
34 Eerik Pietarinen (FIN)/Antti Linnaketo (FIN) Volkswagen Polo GTI R5
39 Lauri Joona (FIN)/Mikael Korhonen (FIN) Škoda Fabia R5
Selected driver quotes appear below:
#4 Esapekka Lappi (RTE-Motorsport, Toyota Yaris WRC): “If we are realistic, it’s impossible that after a 10-month break from the WRC I just come back with one test day and be at the same level as the others even though people might be expecting much more than what I can do. A good rally for me would be during Friday I get used to the speeds again and driving the car on the pacenotes. Hopefully on Saturday and Sunday we can do some competitive stage times and for that I would be happy. But I don’t need to do anything special, I need to do a good performance. The time of year will make things more challenging and the mornings will be really cold. But it will be the same for everyone and probably more interesting for the spectators.”
#8 Ott Tänak (Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team, Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC): “The characteristics of this rally will be very different. There is a big part of the route that we haven’t seen previously, so we will need to put a lot of effort into our recce to ensure our pace notes are completely accurate. The weather could also change quite a bit, so this will keep us on our toes. As the last full gravel rally with this generation of WRC cars – in my opinion, they are probably the best ever – I will definitely enjoy this event. The roads are normally both fun and challenging at the same time, and as it is so fast with small gaps we should have a great competition. Let’s see if we can take a third Rally Finland victory – we know our competitors and it will be tough, but we have worked very hard in the last two years so now is our chance to show we can fight in fast rallies.”
#44 Gus Greensmith (M-Sport Ford World Rally Team, Ford Fiesta WRC): “They’re definitely some of the most enjoyable stages in the world. I think for every driver it doesn’t get much better than driving in Finland, it’s pretty much the pinnacle of the year in terms of the sensation you get behind the wheel with the speed, the speed of the corners, the jumps, everything comes together to give us one of the greatest driving experiences we’ll ever have. That’s why it’s regarded as one of the best rallies. But it’s not easy and that’s why see the Nordic drivers do so well. I feel I’ve always gone well in Finland and it’s a challenge I look forward to.”
#69 Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, Toyota Yaris WRC): “Driving Rally Finland in a World Rally Car is going to be one of the coolest things for me in my career so far. A home rally is always different and Rally Finland is something special. It’s normally a really nice event and you can really feel the atmosphere there. Now that it’s later in the year, the conditions could be really difficult if it’s wet and muddy. That could change things a bit but I’m really looking forward to it, and it’s going to be really nice to see the fans cheering for us on the stages. It helps to have three really good rallies under our belt going there, but I think that it’s going to be a tight fight. Hopefully we can have a good weekend.”
#21 Jari Huttunen (Hyundai Motorsport N, Hyundai i20 N Rally2): “This will be my first WRC2 event on gravel with the Hyundai i20 N Rally 2, so we might face a steep learning curve. I am hoping my existing knowledge of these roads will put me on the front foot next weekend, as I have finished on the podium in the past and taken a victory there. We have shown the car is capable of winning rallies in Ypres Rally Belgium, and I think we have the potential for another good result at this demanding and fast rally.”
All four-wheel-drive cars competing on Secto Automotive Rally Finland will use Pirelli Scorpion tyres. Each WRC driver can use up to 24 tyres during the rally, with a separate allocation of four tyres for shakedown. For the rally, each car has a total allocation of 24 Scorpion KX Soft and eight Scorpion KX Hard. WRC2 and WRC3 drivers get 22 Scorpion K6A Soft and eight Scorpion K4A Hard, plus a separate allocation of four tyres for shakedown.
WRC Drivers (after 9 of 12 rounds)
1 Sébastien Ogier (FRA) 180pts
2 Elfyn Evans (GBR) 136pts
3 Thierry Neuville (BEL) 130pts
4 Kalle Rovanperä (FIN) 129pts
5 Ott Tänak (EST) 106pts
6 Takamoto Katsuta (JPN) 66pts
7 Craig Breen (IRL) 60pts
8 Gus Greensmith (GBR) 44pts
9 Dani Sordo (ESP) 43pts
10 Adrien Fourmaux (FRA) 36pts
WRC Co-drivers (after 9 of 12 rounds)
1 Julien Ingrassia (FRA) 180pts
2 Scott Martin (GBR) 136pts
3 Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL) 130pts
4 Jonne Halttunen (FIN) 129pts
5 Martin Järveoja (EST) 106pts
6 Daniel Barritt (GBR) 66pts
7 Paul Nagle (IRL) 60pts
8 Chris Patterson (IRL) 38pts
9 Renaud Jamoul (BEL) 36pts
10 Borja Rozada (ESP) 20pts
WRC Manufacturers (after 9 of 12 rounds)
1 Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 397pts
2 Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team 340pts
3 M-Sport Ford World Rally Team 153pts
4 Hyundai 2C Competition 44pts
2019 Ott Tänak (EST)/Martin Järveoja (EST) Toyota Yaris WRC
2018 Ott Tänak (EST)/Martin Järveoja (EST) Toyota Yaris WRC
2017 Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC
2016 Kris Meeke (GBR)/Paul Nagle (IRL) Citroën DS3 WRC
2015 Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
2014 Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
2013 Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
2012 Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (MON) Citroën DS3 WRC
2011 Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (MON) Citroën DS3 WRC
2010 Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Ford Focus RS WRC ’09
*Event not held in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic
INTRODUCING THE VETOMIES!
One of the most popular side events of Secto Automotive Rally Finland is the Vetomies, a national-level event open to both national and international competitors. For 2021 a second class, Nelivetomies, has been added within the Vetomies. Nelivetomies will cater for four-wheel-drive machinery, while the Vetomies will be for competitors in two-wheel-drive cars. All the cars comply with Finnish national regulations but are not eligible use on WRC events. The majority of the cars are rear-wheel drive and built to the Group F rules, making for plenty of impressive action on the stages. This year’s Vetomies route consists of five Secto Automotive Rally Finland stages, starting from SS7, Kakaristo-Hassi 1 on Saturday morning and ending at Harju 2, essential the first four stages after the WRC crews and then Harju prior to their arrival. The total distance is 77.13 kilometres, while the prize giving will be held at the Harju Special Stage from 18:15 local time on Saturday October 2.
DID YOU KNOW?
At 22.61 kilometres, Päijälä is the longest stage of the rally, while the mixed-surface Harju city stage is the shortest at 2.31 kilometres.
Finland was the setting of the fastest rally in the history of the WRC when Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle took victory at an average speed of 126.62 kph in 2016.
The late Hannu Mikkola and two-time WRC champion Marcus Grönholm top the list of Rally Finland winners with seven victories apiece.
Carlos Sainz marked the event’s 40th anniversary celebrations – along with an estimated 500,000 fans – as the first non-Nordic winner in 1990.
If Sébastien Ogier wins the 2021 WRC title in Finland, which is mathematically possible, he will become only the second driver in history to do so after Timo Salonen landed the 1985 crown by winning his home round of the world championship.
WHERE TO FOLLOW SECTO RALLY FINLAND
Preview: 21.00-21.30 TV2
07.45-09.00 Shakedown AREENA
13.20-14.30 SS 1 TV2
14.30-17.00 SS 2-3 AREENA
16.50-18.00 SS 4 TV2
18.00-20.00 SS 5-6 AREENA
20.00-21.00 Highlights TV2
08.00-10.30 SS 7-8 AREENA
10.30-11.30 SS 9 TV2
11.30-15.00 SS 10 + Service AREENA
15.00-17.30 SS 11-12 AREENA
17.30-18.30 SS 13 TV2
18.30-20.00 SS 14 TV2
20.00-21.00 SS 15 TV2
21.00-21.30 Highlights TV2
08.15-12.45 SS16-18 AREENA
12.45-15.00 Power Stage TV2
Official Rally Radio provides full coverage in Finnish – with English summaries
Yle Jyväskylä will again be broadcasting the whole three days of Secto Rally Finland in both Finnish and English.
Follow them on FM-radio 99.3 MHz in Jyväskylä region and 97.0 MHz in northern Central Finland (Pihtipudas), or anywhere in the world at online radio: yle.fi/jyvaskyla
Radio broadcasts Yle Jyväskylä / Rally Radio
Tuesday 28 September
18.00-20.00 Rally phone-in on Yle Puhe channel (nationwide) and locally on Yle Jyväskylä, phone-in, tel. +358 14 4444 993
Friday 1 October
08.10-09.30 Shakedown Vesala
11.02-13.00 Rally preshow: Anu Rummukainen and Ari Welling
13.00-20.00 Rally Radio: Day 1, WhatsApp messages to studio +358 44 421 6700
20.00-02.00 Rally Radio by night: J-P Taskinen, phone-in, tel. +358 14 4444 993
Saturday 2 October
07.00-8.00 Rally Radio Wake-Up Show!
08.00-21.00 Rally Radio: Day 2, WhatsApp messages to studio +358 44 421 6700 21.30-02.00 Rally Radio by night: J-P Taskinen, phone-in, tel. +358 14 4444 993
Sunday 3 October
07.00-08.00 Rally Radio Wake-Up Show!
08.00-15.30 Rally radio: Day 3, podium ceremonies, WhatsApp messages to studio +358 44 421 6700
Follow all the Secto Rally Finland stages lives on WRC Plus: https://www.wrc.com/en/wrcplus/all-live/
Event website (including news, itinerary, other documentation):
Secto Automotive: https://secto.fi
Rally Radio: http://yle.fi/mmralli
More information and media activities:
Linda Hirvonen, National Press Officer, +358 (0) 45 3299696, firstname.lastname@example.org