This year the Finnish round of the World Rally Championship, Secto Rally Finland, is set to return as a full four-day event and revert to its familiar slot on the first weekend of August. The rally, scheduled for August 4th–7th, will now feature an exciting new route for the highly popular city-centre Harju stage and a totally revamped driving concept. The Saturday leg comprising more than 150 kilometres of demanding special stages is forecast in turn to be the competition’s watershed, while rally HQ Jyväskylä Paviljonki will be busier and brighter than ever before in terms of support events and attractions aimed at rally fans of all ages.
All told, approximately half the route of Secto Rally Finland is new in comparison to 2021. In addition, the rally organisation’s route planners have managed to find close on ten per cent of special stage kilometres that have never ever been driven by WRC cars for inclusion in the event, which since its inception in 1951 has visited virtually every nook and hollow of Central Finland.
– I really must take off my hat once again to our brilliant route planning team. This year’s WRC rally constitutes a return to ”normal”. The event will undoubtedly offer something for every taste – both along the rally route and in the service park, underlines Kari Nuutinen, Deputy Clerk of the Course, Route for Secto Rally Finland.
Thursday makes a comeback – completely new driving concept for Harju show stage
Before the competition proper gets under way on Thursday evening with the city-centre Harju stage changes will be making their presence felt: the morning of day one will witness the return of the Rannankylä shakedown stage in Muurame, last used in 2010.
Just as promised, things do not end there. Secto Rally Finland’s overwhelmingly most popular stage in recent years, the Harju stage in the very centre of Jyväskylä, has been given a full makeover in terms of both the route and, where rally Thursday is concerned, the driving concept, too.
– The so-called Gradia school section has been dropped this time around. After the now famous Lasse Lampi tree the route turns onto Pitkäkatu and follows it all the way to the Normaalikoulu school complex. On Thursday the stage does not end there but continues for a second lap, going up the Harju hill and following the same route to the finish at the school. This will provide a fabulous start to the weekend, Nuutinen explains.
VIP events on the Harju stage will also return this year and make use of the traditional and highly popular Harju stadium.
Friday in Kankkunen’s backyard and west of Jyväskylä
The first full day of Secto Rally Finland gets under way with the Laukaa loop, the drivers taking on two passes of both the Laukaa and fervently requested Lankamaa special stages. Lankamaa, a full 21 kilometres in length, is also the longest special stage of this year’s rally.
– We’ll be making another return to world champion Juha Kankkunen’s backyard on the Lankamaa stage. Lankamaa is a special stage that has been much requested by rally fans and it is a great pleasure for us to be able to include it once again in the rally route, Nuutinen continues.
After the Laukaa loop the afternoon session features the second running of the Harju stage, this time in normal mode as a special stage of one lap. From Harju the crews head off similar to last year to the familiar Ässämäki and Sahloinen-Moksi stages located west of Jyväskylä.
Paviljonki regains carnival atmosphere
In addition to thrilling special stages rally fever will be boosted in unprecedented fashion at rally HQ Jyväskylä Paviljonki. The Paviljonki service park will again feature a big number of support events and activities, which means that Secto Rally Finland can also be enjoyed to the max on the spot in Jyväskylä.
– Jyväskylä Paviljonki is an absolutely unique venue, serving as the hub for both the rally itself and all the action going on around it. Since it now looks like we can once again offer our visitors excitement and entertainment in the normal manner, our aim was to increase the offer at Paviljonki as much as we could. For instance, there will be numerous service breaks throughout the weekend and on the Friday as many as four, with two service breaks during the day in addition to the usual morning and evening services. Spectators can now fill their boots with the hectic business of servicing WRC cars, Nuutinen says enthusiastically.
On Sunday, the final day of the rally, Paviljonki also serves as the venue for the podium ceremony.
Saturday destined to separate the wheat from the chaff
Day three of the rally is not easy in any shape or form; over 150km of special stages alone will attend to that. On rally Saturday, as usual, Jämsä and the legendary roads in the surrounding area – Päijälä, Rapsula, Patajoki and Vekkula – will enjoy the central role. Now it is rollercoaster time in true Central Finland style.
The ride begins with Päijälä, which is driven in the same direction as in 2019. Next up is Rapsula, which according to Deputy Clerk of the Course Nuutinen is a potent cocktail with thrills and spills in full measure.
– Rapsula is an absolutely brilliant stage. It combines the best bits of Rapsula, Kakaristo and Arvaja. The drivers set off from the Rapsulantie road and turn onto Okskulmantie, familiar from the old Ouninpohja, heading towards Kakaristo. Next they shift to the small Pitkäjärvi road, ending up at what was the finish of last year’s Arvaja stage. The roads vary a lot; there’s gravel and even a small stretch of tarmac, Nuutinen reveals.
The first section of Patajoki, which featured last year, has undergone a few changes and again offers a fantastic setting for a WRC event. Saturday’s loop climaxes with the equally impressive Vekkula stage, which comprises a good deal of new road and is essentially a mix of two old favourites, Leustu and Ehikki.
– Thanks for Vekkula go in particular to Jussi Pummila of our route planning team. We’ve created a fabulous special stage that’s almost 10 kilometres in length and has never been driven before in any kind of rally competition. Vekkula brings rally Saturday to a close but the final stage is not easy and the drivers have to stay awake until the very end. In addition to a variety of road types the special stage features 15 junctions, for instance, so a sense of rhythm and accurate pace notes are essential, predicts Nuutinen.
The Vekkula special stage also passes close to the rally’s own afforestation area. This year Rally Finland’s compensatory planting will begin in the 27.5 hectare (68 acre) area. In the course of 2022 the area will acquire at minimum the number of new trees necessary to compensate the carbon footprint generated by last year’s Rally Finland organising body and the rally cars themselves.
Sunday takes in Oittila and Ruuhimäki
The scenic Oittila special stage has now been moved to the final day of the rally to partner Ruuhimäki, the stage famed for its mega-jumps. Oittila offers relatively fast and smooth-flowing gravel road but there is no room to take things easy. Oittila has proved the undoing of many a driver over the years, putting an end to proceedings for Ari Vatanen (1975) as well as Ott Tänak and Pontus Tidemand (2016), for instance.
After the second pass of Oittila there’s a chance to admire both the drivers and their vehicles at close hand in the centre of Toivakka during the regrouping break before the final stage of the rally, Ruuhimäki 2, which is driven in customary fashion as the Power Stage.
– Throughout the years Ruuhimäki has been one of the most legendary special stages of the whole WRC series. In recent years it has become established as the Power Stage due to its awesome road profile, which offers excitement and great rally entertainment right to the end. From one year to the next the stage has been a firm favourite with both drivers and spectators. It’s the perfect finish to Secto Rally Finland, emphasises Nuutinen.
– Many, many thanks to the Municipality of Laukaa for the fruitful cooperation, which has enabled us to develop and improve the Ruuhimäki stage each year, Nuutinen concludes.
Route of Secto Rally Finland 2022
09.01 Shakedown, Rannankylä (4.46 km)
19.08 SS1 Harju 1 (3.50 km)
Total length of Day 1 special stages: 3.50 km
06.55 Service A, Jyväskylä Paviljonki
08.00 SS2 Laukaa 1 (11.75 km)
08.45 SS3 Lankamaa 1 (21.60 km)
10.40 Service B, Jyväskylä Paviljonki
12.00 SS4 Laukaa 2 (11.75 km)
12.45 SS5 Lankamaa 2 (21.60 km)
14.08 SS6 Harju 2 (2.00 km)
15.13 Service C, Jyväskylä Paviljonki
16.38 SS7 Ässämäki 1 (12.31 km)
17.31 SS8 Sahloinen-Moksi 1 (15.70 km)
18.51 SS9 Ässämäki 2 (12.31 km)
19.44 SS10 Sahloinen-Moksi 2 (15.70 km)
20.59 Service D, Jyväskylä Paviljonki
Total length of Day 2 special stages: 124.72 km
06.05 Service E, Jyväskylä Paviljonki
08.08 SS11 Päijälä 1 (20.30 km)
09.08 SS12 Rapsula 1 (20.61 km)
10.08 SS13 Patajoki 1 (13.75 km)
11.08 SS14 Vekkula 1 (21.20 km)
13.20 Service F, Jyväskylä Paviljonki
15.38 SS15 Päijälä 2 (20.30 km)
16.38 SS16 Rapsula 2 (20.61 km)
17.38 SS17 Patajoki 2 (13.75 km)
18.38 SS18 Vekkula 2 (21.20 km)
20.18 Service G, Jyväskylä Paviljonki
Total length of Day 3 special stages: 151.72 km
07.15 Service H, Jyväskylä Paviljonki
08.23 SS19 Oittila 1 (11.00 km)
09.38 SS20 Ruuhimäki 1 (11.12 km)
11.01 SS21 Oittila 2 (11.00 km)
11.56 Regrouping, centre of Toivakka
13.18 SS22 Ruuhimäki 2, Wolf Power Stage (11.12 km)
Total length of Day 4 special stages: 44.24 km
Total length of Secto Rally Finland special stages: 324.18 km
Total length of Secto Rally Finland route: 1415.57 km
In addition to the competition itself and the opportunity to witness all the key action in the Paviljonki service park a number of rally arenas will be available to spectators along the rally route. These arenas will offer rally fans a comprehensive range of services on the Sahloinen-Moksi, Vekkula and Ruuhimäki special stages.
See you in Secto Rally Finland in August 4th-7th!