Motor Sport News - - Rally News - Photos: mck­lein-im­age­

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.

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