Rally Finland makes a welcome return to the World Rally Championship after its coronavirus-enforced cancellation in 2020. The Rally of 1000 Lakes is as big as they get. Hosted by a rally country, on pure rally stages, win this rally and you become a great of the sport.
The foot-to-the-floor stages are a test of bravery, talent, and experience. If a driver is missing one of these they are either going to be miles off the pace or finish miles off the road.
Few events on the WRC calendar offer safety nets for mistakes but Finland offers none at all. Get it wrong in the Finnish woods and it can get messy very fast.
The fact that seven-time world champion Sebastien Ogier has only won the Jvaskyla-based event only once speaks volumes of its testing nature. Now in a Toyota which favours the style of Finnish rallying, Ogier will be hoping to double up his tally in 2021.
Another rare non-Finnish winner is Kris Meeke who along with Paul Nagle conquered Rally Finland in awe-inspiring fashion in 2016.
Hannu Mikkola and Marcus Gronholm share the record for the most Rally Finland victories with seven home wins each.
1983 World Rally champion Mikkola claimed his seven wins over a 16-year period. Gronholm, meanwhile, was next to unbeatable in Finland between 2000 and 2007. Only Markko Martin could grab a Rally Finland win off Gronholm in that period. A collapsed wheel bearing put Gronholm out of the battle with Martin halfway through the 2003 event.
More recently, Ott Tanak sealed a brace of Rally Finland victories during his time with Toyota in 2018 and ‘19. He’ll have his work cut out to make it three from three now that he is at Hyundai which has historically struggled in the Nordic countries.