“Finland is a perfect storm of rally fever”
hat a place Jyvaskyla is. If every rally in the championship could bottle the secret recipe that this place uses and liberally sprinkle their events with the elixir of success, then my goodness me, the WRC would truly be a force to be reckoned with.
Is it really a secret recipe though? Maybe more like the perfect storm of rallying fever. Take a good size city that gets behind the event 100 per cent, find a service park that’s within walking distance of the town centre, throw in some of the most dramatic, intoxicatedly exhilarating stages in the world and top it all off with 100,000 madly passionate fans. Easy really isn’t it?
Well OK, maybe not so easy. But it works here. The world’s best rally without a shadow of doubt just seems to get better and better each year. To me it seems like everyone who is anyone in rallying converges on this slightly ugly, but strangely endearing city at the end of July each year. The atmosphere is incredible.
And of course Jyvaskyla takes on a slightly different role this year as the home of the WRC’S newest manufacturer team, Toyota. More of my news and views on this to come, hopefully, at a later date.
This year’s event was obviously mighty special for British and Irish rally fans, and let me tell you, there were plenty of them here experiencing first hand history in the making. Kris Meeke’s performance was as good as we have seen from any British driver anywhere in the world. It will go down in the annals of rallying history as a masterclass in how to destroy the opposition.
But the performance of young Craig Breen was just as special. There were seven drivers here starting the event with a realistic chance of winning, Breen should have been happy to finish in the top eight. But he stepped up big time. No he didn’t actually, he leapt, vaulted and propelled himself up with one of the cleverest and most controlled drives I have ever witnessed from a driver with little experience in a World Rally Car. He used his road position brilliantly but then when the chips were down and the vastly more experienced Hyundai boys were sniffing his exhaust fumes, he only went and showed them a clean set of heals and took his first stage win. A simply stunning effort.
And it now gives team bosses Matton, Nandan, Capito, Wilson and dare I say Makinen a very big headache indeed. There are a few good youngsters out there all vying for seats next year, but could any of them have achieved what Breen has done here? I don’t think so. Craig Breen’s phone could be very hot indeed in the coming weeks – make sure you keep it well charged, mate!