One of the WRC’s most famous events, known as the «Gravel Grand Prix», is set for a fresh look this year, with more than half the route changed, while almost a third of the mileage will be completely new for drivers.
The ninth round of the 13-round WRC season (3-6 August) will be contested over 22 stages, totalling 320.56 kilometres.
The route includes the return of the Myhinpaa test, which is regarded as one of rallying’s most iconic stages, last used in 2015. As well as bringing back vintage roads, last year’s stages have also undergone a number of modifications.
One significant change sees the rally begin with a ceremonial start on Wednesday in Jyvaskyla. This will precede the shakedown on Thursday morning and Harju city special on Thursday evening.
Crews will tackle the biggest changes to the route on Friday, which will feature nine stages.
The first forest stage, Laukaa, is a familiar name but features a new start and jumps, before the return of Myhinpaa, which will act as stage 4. Lankamaa, one of the other stages in the opening leg adopts a new format this year, while the Halttula test is brand new for 2023.
Also new for this year is the Vastila, which will be run twice as part of Saturday’s scheduled eight stages. The test will be the longest of the rally at 20.65km. The rally will conclude following four stages on Sunday.
Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1
Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images
«With an expanded route we’re able to make it easier to attract yet more spectators and volunteers to the rally, while keeping the traditional character of the roads that drivers love,» said clerk of the course Kai Tarkiainen.
«As well as some new stages there are familiar names on the itinerary, but even these have often been extensively revised, so they will be new to many of the drivers.
«This is a significant event as it’s the first time in many years that we are reaching out to new territories and covering such a wide geographical spread, underlining the enduring popularity of rallying in our country.»
Ott Tanak won last year’s edition after seeing off local favourite and current world champion Kalle Rovanpera.