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GP Week : Issue 56
SPECIAL StAGES n There are ninety crews on the entry list for Finland, making this easily the biggest entry in the WRC this year. Included are four S2000 cars. n Tommi Makinen Racing, the Nordic official base supplier for Subaru Group N cars, will run the Fiat Grand Punto S2000 cars for Kimi Raikkonen and Anton Alen in Finland. n For the first time year Sebastien Loeb does not start first car on the road for the opening leg of the event. Mikko Hirvonen has this duty. Good or bad? Hard to tell on this event … n Former World Rally Car driver Janne Tuohino returns to the Finnish rally, this time at the wheel of has the ex-Juha Salo Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, the 2008 Group N championship winning car. n Rally Finland sees the first World Rally Car drive for Matthias Therman, whose family company is the brewery that produces Karjala beer, one of the official suppliers to the event organisers. n Munchis will only be allowed to score points with Frederico Villagra’s entry, even though they have three entries and their number two entry for Matti Rantanen will carry the team’s official competition number 10. Finland critical in title fight WITH only three events to follow after Finland in the World Rally Championship, this event will have major significance for the teams. Although Ford’s drivers have won the last three rallies, and Mikko Hirvonen is now one point in front of Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb, the BP Ford team start the event 17 points behind Citroen Total. In a rally where previous experience is critical, only one driver starts with a victory on this event behind them – Loeb won last year and has finished on the podium on the last four occasions. Hirvonen has been on the podium the last three times, but his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala has never had a good placing on this event. Of the five teams registered for the WRC, only Citroen Total, BP Ford Abu Dhabi and Stobart VK M-Sport Ford are now still able to win the manufacturers’ title, though no fewer than seven drivers can win the title. The Production Car World Rally Championship isn’t present in Finland, but the Junior World Rally Championship is. It is the penultimate round, and one of only two rounds which every registered JWRC driver has opted to contest. Four drivers are able to win their title; Michal Kosciuszko, Martin Prokop, Aaron Burkart and Kevin Abbring will contest both Finland and the final round in Catalunya. Potential ‘Stars’ expected in Jyvaskyla EIGHT young Northern European drivers will travel to Finland for a preliminary shoot-out in readiness for the 2010 Pirelli Star Driver selection, run as part of Neste Oil Rally Finland activities. Of these eight, the best five drivers will then be invited to go to Austria for the final selection of drivers from Europe and various other regions. This event will be run at Freistadt on September 26-27. The eight drivers are Keith Cronin from Ireland (an unsuccessful PSD candidate in 2008), Kris Hall from Britain, Maris Neiksans (older brother of Andis, the PCWRC driver) from Latvia, Vytautas Svedas from Lithuania, Anders Kjaer from Norway, Victor Hendriksson from Sweden, Joonas Lindroos from Finland and Ott Tanak from Estonia. A 4km mixed surfaced course at Ruuhimaki, where the final stage of the NORF will be held, is being prepared, but once again speed alone will not decide which drivers will go to the shoot-put final. Impressive interview skills and linguistic aptitude will also be considered. Another major alternative attraction is the Saturday evening rallysprint competition run over the same 2km Killeri stage as used by the rally on the Thursday and Friday evenings, located in the western suburbs of Jyvaskyla.. The main attraction will be the entry by Marcus Gronholm, who will drive a rallycross spec, unrestricted Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. Gronholm will face opposition from some 40-50 competitors, mostly specialists in rallysprint competition, including four-time Finnish champion Tomi Hallia, who makes a come-back just to be able to challenge the rally superstar. ADVERTISE in GPWEEK to access a HUGE global audience 1