Finland is and always has been the Grand Daddy of rallying. The spiritual home; Mecca for those of us who prefer our motorsport sideways through the forests and gravel roads of the world.
Since the 60’s the 1000 Lakes Rally, now known as Neste Oil Rally Finland, has been the crown jewel in the WRC calendar. So if you’re going to see a WRC event, this is the one to see, right? Well at least that’s the vague theory that caused me to venture as far north on this planet as I’ve ever been before to see some bloke’s with funny names drive small hatchbacks way too quickly through some trees. Put like that it seems like a bit of a daft endeavor, but it was anything but.
For the first time on my little tour, I wasn’t alone. It actually all started on an infamous evening; Saturday 24th of November 2012. After the Southern Districts Car Club go kart night back in Adelaide, Australia, Patrick Chan (left) and myself (right) were discussing our respective upcoming trips to Europe when we realized we’d both be there at the same time. Rather than meet up at some generic bar or tourist hotspot, we checked the WRC calendar and decided that Finland was as good a place as any. Later that night we would of course go on to purchase 2Festi and race it the next day and the rest is history, but the Finland seed was planted. Further conversation a few weeks later revealed that our mutual friend, David Rudzitis (middle), would also be in Europe at the same time. Such serendipity! Eight and a half months later, three Australian rally fans were converging on the Finnish city of Jyväskylä from three very different directions.
The first thing that needs to be said about Rally Finland is that it is, without fail, the most spectator friendly rally I’ve ever been to. As the most famous WRC event with arguably the highest speeds I was expecting the spectator access to be pretty poor. And having to spend 65 euro on day 1 to buy a pass to see any of the stages or service park initially confirmed my expectations.
But once you buy that 65 euro Rally Pass you have full and complete access to the event. In Australia you usually avoid the designated spectator points because they restrict what you can do, but not in Finland. Over here a spectator point means you can still watch from where you like, but you have decent food stalls, a bar, toilets and car parking. Continue reading