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GP Week : Issue 164
RALLY >>> PREVIEW year the summer in Finland has been wet, but recently the weather has improved, becoming warmer and sunnier, with good forecasts for the event. The rate at which the drying-out process will proceed however is difficult to predict. So it is difficult to know to what extent the surfaces will remain soft under the top layers, and therefore to what extent road cleaning is more important than suffering the degradation of the roads, and therefore whether to want to run the stages early or late. Tricky one! The event counts not only for the SWRC series but also for the Academy category. All the entrants in the SWRC have nominated the event, the only declared driver novelty so far concerns the Proton SWRC team, with the Finnish national Group N champion Juha Salo already signed to drive, as teammate to the Swede Per-Gunnar Andersson. A large number of Academy drivers have contested this event before. The Academy drivers will contest all the rally except for the second run through Ouninpohja, which is the event's Power Stage. Curiosity factor in the entry list surrounds the remarkable 21 year-old Esapekka Lappi, the Fiesta S2000 driver who has proved unbeatable this year in national Finnish championship rallies, on only his second WRC appearance. The entry list is strong in terms of World Rally Cars – there are 11 Fiestas plus two Fiesta RRC WRC derivatives for Yazeed Al Rajhi and Edoardo Bresolin, the member of the rally car collection family in Italy. The entry list includes 41 Fiestas of one form or another. Many of the Fiesta R2 competitors come from Finland where there is a normal Fiesta Sporting Trophy challenge though this event does not qualify. For the fifth time there is a special entry by a member of the unofficial ‘51 Club’. It has become a tradition that when a celebrated Finnish rally driver reaches the age of 51, he enters the NORF for one final chance at fame. This year this honour comes to Sebastian Lindholm, cousin of twice world champion Marcus Gronholm. Sebastian was eight times the national Finnish rally champion, and works driver on WRC events for Ford, Peugeot and Suzuki. Late news: as this is written, there is little news about the scheduled entry for Henning Solberg, while Mikko Pajunen has now withdrawn for financial reasons. Mini is back in Finland – spectacular in 2011! 42 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: