Hirvonen plans double celebration in Rally Finland speed fest
Birthday boy Mikko Hirvonen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen will defend Ford’s Rally
The BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team duo will be joined by fellow Finns Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila for what many regard as the highlight of the season. Rally
Hirvonen, who fulfilled a lifetime ambition by winning last year in a Ford Focus RS World Rally Car, celebrates his 30th birthday on the final day next Saturday. The rally, which is again based in the traditional host city of
Organisers have taken advantage of new-for-2010 regulations to pack all the action into just two legs. So while the distance is shorter than other WRC rounds, drivers face almost 15 hours behind the wheel on Friday’s first full day of competition and almost 14 on Saturday, ensuring both endurance and outright speed will be a factor in determining the outcome.
Climbing onto the top step of the podium in
The rally will be fought out on blisteringly fast roller-coaster gravel speed tests. Finns who nurtured their careers on this type of road have a clear advantage over ‘outsiders’ who require several years experience before they can hope to mount a genuine victory challenge. Only seven non-Finns have won in 59 years and such is the speed that Rally Finland boasts five of the six fastest rallies in WRC history, the 2005 event topping the standings at a remarkable average of 122.86kph.
The rally offers a mix of hard, wide and fast roads combined with narrower, more technical special stages. They are as smooth as a billiard table and it is not a hard rally on machinery. However, it is incredibly difficult from a driving perspective. Awesome stomach-churning jumps frequently hide bends over the crests so the accuracy and delivery of pace notes must be exact, and selecting the correct line before ‘take-off” ensures maximum pace through the following curves.
This will be Hirvonen’s ninth start in his home event and he has also finished second twice. He completed two days of testing yesterday (Thursday), covering about 500km. "There were lots of good things to come from the test so I’m excited about the rally. I’m looking forward to defending last year’s victory because I want to keep the title in
"The two-day format will be interesting. Recently, Sunday’s final leg has contained very few kilometres and the result was effectively decided by what happened in the previous two days. With just two legs this year, the battle could continue through to the final stage of the rally," he added.
Latvala finished third last season and this will be the 25-year-old’s eighth start in the rally. "The excitement builds in
"This year’s rally is so short that I will need to be sharp from the first kilometre of the opening stage. But there is also an endurance factor because the days are long. I will try to get as much sleep as possible at the beginning of the week because there will be the opportunity for only about six hours sleep each night during the event itself," added Latvala, who is testing today (Friday) and tomorrow.
The 2010 event marks the return to competition of rally legend Juha Kankkunen in a guest drive in a privately-entered Focus RS WRC. The four-time world champion retired from full-time competition after Rally GB in 2002, which was Latvala’s WRC debut.
* An amazing 30 of the 101 entrants are at the wheel of Ford cars. Matthew Wilson / Scott Martin and Henning Solberg / Ilka Minor are nominated in Focus RS WRCs by the Stobart M-Sport Ford team, which has also entered four-time world champion Juha Kankkunen / Juha Repo and Mattias Therman / Janne Perälä. A 2005-specification Focus RS WRC will be crewed by Jouni Arolainen / Seppo Kopra. Eight Fiesta S2000 cars are entered, four of which are competing in the S-WRC, and there are a record 14 Fiesta R2 and ST entries for the third round of the Fiesta SportTrophy International.
While the rally format has undergone major changes, the majority of the roads will be familiar to the drivers. There is one all-new test, the 6.45km Sirkkamäki on Friday, and short sections elsewhere that have not been used previously, but the rest of the 310.05km route has been driven in recent years. The service park returns to the popular Paviljonki exhibition area in Jyväskylä. Thursday evening’s traditional super special stage at the Killeri trotting track has been dropped in favour of a forest test on the edge of Jyväskylä, which passes through the town’s ski jumping arena. Friday’s action is based west and north-east of the town before the second leg, the longest of the event, journeys south-west for tests near Jämsä and Mänttä. Drivers tackle 19 stages in a total distance of 1307.87km.
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ROUND 8 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
29 – 31 July 2010
Thursday 29 July: Day 1 Jyväskylä – Jyväskylä
Start Paviljonki 18.00
SS1 Laajavuori 1 4.19km 18.45
Finish Paviljonki 19.15
Friday 30 July: Day 1 (continued) Jyväskylä – Jyväskylä
Serv A Paviljonki (15 mins) 06.30
SS2 Urria 1 12.75km 07.42
SS3 Jukojärvi 1 22.29km 08.40
SS4 Urria 2 12.75km 10.06
SS5 Jukojärvi 2 22.29km 11.04
Serv B Paviljonki (30 mins) 12.30
SS6 Lankamaa 24.87km 13.58
SS7 Sirkkamäki 1 6.45km 15.01
SS8 Myhinpää 1 15.52km 15.36
SS9 Sirkkamäki 2 6.45km 17.27
SS10 Myhinpää 2 15.52km 18.02
SS11 Laajavuori 2 4.19km 20.00
Serv C Paviljonki (45 mins) 20.30
Finish Paviljonki 21.15
Saturday 31 July: Day 2 Jyväskylä – Jyväskylä
Serv D Paviljonki (15 mins) 05.50
SS12 Kolonkulma 10.35km 07.33
SS13 Väarinmaja 29.29km 08.01
SS14 Surkee 1 19.59km 09.44
Serv E Paviljonki (30 mins) 10.46
SS15 Leustu 1 21.35km 11.59
SS16 Himos 1 20.63km 12.46
SS17 Surkee 2 19.59km 14.03
Serv F Paviljonki (30 mins) 15.10
SS18 Leustu 2 21.35km 16.23
SS19 Himos 2 20.63km 17.10
Serv G Paviljonki (10 mins) 19.08
Finish Paviljonki 19.45
Rally total 310.05km