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Rally Finland 2024 route, Ouninpohja returns!

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The 2024 edition of Secto Rally Finland has revealed its route, striking a perfect balance between tradition and innovation to offer something for everyone. The mythical stage returns thanks to the virtual chicane technology

Clerk of the Course Kai Tarkiainen, who has served in the role as long as from 2008, described this year’s route as “one of the best ever”, thanks to a selection of roads that showcase typically Finnish flat-out action, while pioneering on a completely new stage alongside reworked versions of familiar names. This has been done to give spectators the best possible and easiest experience, while also putting an accent on sustainability.

In total, 61% of the route has been changed compared to last year, while 12% of the route is entirely new to Rally Finland (since the start of the modern WRC era in 1997).

Secto Rally Finland 2024 takes place from August 1-4 in its traditional home of Jyväskylä. Last year’s highly-popular start ceremony at Jyväskylä Harbour, next to the Paviljonki service park, will be repeated on Wednesday evening, before the shakedown at Ruuhimäki on Thursday morning on part of the road that will also be used as SS5 and SS9 on Friday. On Thursday evening, there’s an opening special stage at Harju that also closes Friday’s action, which is the longest day of the rally both in terms of timing and competitive kilometres.

With Friday’s programme consisting of two loops of the same four stages (Laukaa, Saarikas, Myhinpää, and Ruuhimäki) plus the repeat of Harju in the evening, it’s simpler than ever for spectators to follow the action without straying too far from Jyväskylä. The way that the stages have been organised makes it easy for people to stay in one place throughout the day, and also saves on resources by reducing the necessary set-up infrastructure and footprint.

But this doesn’t make the challenge for the drivers any easier or more predictable. One of the stages, Saarikas, has never been used on a World Championship event before: only at national level several years ago, and even then, in a different format. The same applies to many of the more familiar stage names, which also take on a different look this year.

On Saturday, six more stages (consisting of two repeated loops of three) head further afield into the ever-popular Jämsä region: Västilä, Päijälä and the king of stages, Ouninpohja. This is being run in the legendary 33-kilometre ‘long’ format as last seen in 2016 – but in the opposite direction this year.

The final sprint on Sunday, which holds its own points classification as per the latest championship rules this year, is made up of two stages driven twice: Sahloinen-Moksi and Laajavuori, which will be the points-scoring power stage that concludes the action: another icon of Rally Finland. The finish is at Paviljonki next to the service park, with the podium taking place back where it all started four days earlier at Jyväskylä Harbour, after 305 kilometres of competitive action.

A firm focus has been placed on making sure that spectators get the most possible out of the event. As a result, there will be special spectator arenas with enhanced viewing and facilities. These are located at Ruuhimäki (on Thursday and Friday) while Saarikas, Ouninpohja, and Laajavuori will also feature dedicated arenas – meaning that there is at least one available each day. These will be accessible by public transport as well, helping more people to reach the rally and lowering the environmental impact.

Community is at the very heart of Rally Finland, thanks to the organisers extending their co-operation with local businesses and residents, to make sure that all stakeholders get something back from the event. Not only that, but this accent on shared ownership and enterprise helps to underline the unique rallying culture of central Finland, which has hosted a World Rally Championship event from the very start of the series in 1973.

Kai Tarkiainen commented: “I do honestly believe that this is an exceptional ‘all-in’ route: one of the best-ever. Here in Finland, we’re very lucky to benefit from excellent feedback from all our stakeholders, and we have taken on board everything they said to come up with a route that successfully blends tradition with innovation. Of course, some of the headline stages are still there, but in a different form compared to how we have seen them before, and we also have some brand new roads. We’ve grouped the stages in such a way that spectators can have a very easy and user-friendly experience, while sampling the very best that Rally Finland can offer. Sustainability and community is extremely high up our agenda, so we have also considered this very carefully when planning our 2024 itinerary. The result is an event that benefits not only local communities, but the entire global family of rallying as a whole.”