Three weeks after the battle in Estonia, the WRC is back in action this weekend (August 4 to 7), with one of the most mythical, classic and awaited rounds on the calendar. Here comes Rally Finland 2022, the eighth race of a season dominated by an unrivalled Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota).
After taking his fifth victory out of seven (Sweden, Croatia, Portugal, Kenya & Estonia) in the Baltic round, the local hero rules the standings with 83 points more than Thierry Neuville (Hyundai). His superb state of form and overall superiority, make him the enemy number one to beat at his native Jyväskylä, whose stages, obviously, he knows like the back of his hand.
The 21-year-old prodigy dreams of claiming his first win at home, after being deprived of doing so a year ago becasue of an accident.
His dream, however, will be met with strong opposition from within and outside his team. Both his teammates have, in fact, won the Scandinavian round before. Elfyn Evans gave a driving master class in 2021, with his best WRC performance to date.
Esapekka Lappi, for his part, was the last Finn to win at home (2017), and always gives high-level performances in his home round. The Japanese Takamoto Katsuta will also be competing in a fourth private GR Yaris with factory support.
Hyundai is in desperate need of a win
Desperate by the lack of results, Hyundai Motorsport is desperate for a victory to keep its spirits up. To date, they have only taken Sardinia (Tänak), incapable of facing up to Toyota in any of the other appointments.
Ott Tänak, with his two Finnish wins (2018 and 2019) and second place in 2021, is Hyundai’s greatest asset. A third place in his native Estonia in July is proof of his skill level on fast gravel stages.
The other full-time driver of the South Korean team, Thierry Neuville, will try to take his third podium of the year after nearly doing so in last Baltic round. Oliver Solberg will once again sit behind the wheel of the i20 N Rally 1 to complete the South Korean trident.
M-Sport is hoping to come out of the shadows
M-Sport is taking a large line-up to Finland in the hope of harvesting an elusive good result. Craig Breen will lead the Cumbrian team. Third in Finland 2021, the Irishman usually displays the best version of himself on this type of track.
Britain’s Gus Greensmith and France’s Adrien Fourmaux and Pierre-Louis Loubet will complete the regular line-up of the British team. Finally, the Finn Jari Huttunen will make his WRC debut on board a fifth Ford Puma Rally 1.
Rute of Rally Finland 2022
The Finnish Rally kicks off on Thursday night with an urban stage (Harju) in the centre of Jyväskylä. The total distance of the rally is 1427.47km, 322.61 of which are competitive, divided into 22 stages.
On Friday, competitors will head into the forest northeast of the city for a double pass of the Laukaa and Lankamaa stages, the longest of the race with 21.69km, before moving onto Harju 2. In the afternoon they will do a double loop of the Ässämäki and Sahloinen-Moksi specials, totalling nine stages and 124.91 km.
Saturday will be a true marathon with eight stages and 150.30 km, almost half of the competitive distance of the rally. Drivers will come head-to-head in the morning at Päijälä, Rapsula, Patajoki and the new Vekkula, only to repeat the same itinerary again in the afternoon.
Finally, on Sunday a double battle in Oittila and the ‘Power Stage’ at the great jumps of Ruuhimäki, will make up the final 43.92 km that will crown the winner.
Rally Finland 2022: Toyota GAZOO Racing.