Arctic Rally Finland is a new addition to the World Rally Championship calendar in 2021. The event, based on Rovaniemi’s annual Arctic Lapland Rally, replaces Rally Sweden as the WRC’s only snow rally. Sweden curbed its 2021 event due to continuing coronavirus concerns.
Only 10 stages make up the WRC’s second round but the average length of each Arctic Rally test is an impressive 25 kilometres.
The WRC crews will be thrown into the deep end as well with the rally’s longest stage, the 31 kilometres of Sarriojarvi, opens the competitive action on Friday afternoon.
Rovaniemi sits just below the Arctic Circle while stages skirt either side of the major circle of latitude. As a result, conditions will be perfect for the Arctic Rally and will no doubt captivate the WRC crews when they visit in February.
Temperatures at the end of February are still well below zero degrees Celsius and Arctic stages will have that snow-on-ice effect that crews so desperately desire on a true winter rally.
Even though it is the event’s first appearance in the WRC some of the championship regulars have already competed in its sister event, the Arctic Lapland Rally. The two rallies share similar stages with some reversed to ensure the playing field is as fair as possible.
The Arctic Rally
The first Arctic Rally took place over 50 years ago in 1966.
One of the firm favourites for success on 2021’s Arctic Rally Finland is Kalle Rovanpera. Toyota’s young Finnish sensation is still seeking his first world rally win. The 20-year-old claimed his maiden World Rally Car victory on the Arctic Lapland Rally in 2020 and his podium finish on last year’s Rally Sweden also showed his potential on the high-speed snow rallies.
Before 2021 the Arctic Rally only had two non-Finnish winners. Spain’s Dani Sordo won the event in 2010 while Sweden’s Thomas Radstrom won the event 10 years earlier in a Toyota Corolla WRC.
Finland’s Juha Salo is the leading rally-winner with six victories, the most recent in 2016.
Juho Hanninen won the 2021 Arctic Lapland Rally in a Toyota Yaris WRC while Oliver Solberg finished third in his Hyundai i20 R5.
Teenager Solberg steps up to a World Rally Car for the first time in his career for Arctic’s WRC round. His progression on the snow stages will be well worth watching.