ROUTE CHANGE TO UNDO LATVALA TRIPLE?
A change in route on Rally Finland could scupper Jari-matti Latvala’s bid at a third Rally Finland win in a row, according to the native VW driver.
Latvala knows victory this season would give Finland its first hat-trick since Marcus Gronholm’s a decade ago. But sweeping changes to the event – including the decision to run the world-renowned Ouninpohja stage in the opposite direction – make the July 28-31 event a bigger test than usual.
The organisers ran half of the stage in the opposite direction in 2008, finishing at Kakaristo junction. Ouninpohja hasn’t run at its full length in reverse since 1994.
“It will be a big challenge,” said Latvala. “OK, we did half of it in 2008, but that was the small road – we didn’t drive the faster, wider road in this direction before. The challenge will come in knowing where are the jumps, how will the car react in some of these places.”
Latvala admitted one of the biggest questions would centre on the famous yellow house jump.
“The speed coming to the jump will be very, very fast,” he said. “We will be flat out for a long time before this jump.
“I have to say, looking at the route, I am happy with what I have seen. There are a lot of stages, I like this – it means a lot for the fans to follow.
The changes also include a new stage (Halinen on Friday) and a completely revised final day, taking the crews on the east side of the Lake Paijanne for the first time in 10 years.
Rally Finland clerk of the course Kai Tarkiainen told MN: “Every year, we look for changes in the route to keep it interesting for the drivers and the spectators. This is done by looking for new stages, stages unknown to present drivers but used in the past, and by changing existing stages and adding or deleting bits and changing the driving directions.”
Current WRC regulations make no stipulation about the average speed for stages, an 80mph maximum was scrapped by the FIA.