The World Rally Championship is a shadow of its former self, not helped by constant changes to rules, regulations, calendar changes and classic events.
Sadly, this weekends 'Rally of 1000 Lakes (I refuse to call it by its new name, Rally Finland!) has lost one of Rallying's most distinctive stages. The Ouninpohja stages are legendary as rally drivers launch themselves over the high speed jumps since the Fifties!
Here is a great example from Ikka Rythönen, of Mikko Hirvonen in his Ford Focus WRC this time last year.
In an effort to reduce speed, the stage has been cut in half and will now run in the opposite direction. 'Air' will be greatly reduced. A number of drivers are unhappy about this. Suzuki's Per Gunnar Andersson told Autosport " Some of these roads are not classic Finland, You come here for big jumps and wide roads, we don't have so much of either now". Such a shame, and another kick in the teeth for World Rallying.
The Rally takes place this weekend, Sebastien Loeb, still chasing his first ever Rally Finland 1000 Lakes Win. Only three non-Scandinavians have won the demanding event.
- Andy Blackmore
Ikka Rytkönen's Rally Gallery Great gallery, with shots dating back to 2001.