Palletforce-supported world rally driver Kris Meeke is all set for a very special event this week. Rally Finland is the fastest event on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar and will also mark the Northern Ireland driver’s 100th world rally start.
Meeke, who recently turned 40, won the famous rally in 2016. With an average speed of 126.62 kph, it was also the fastest rally in WRC history and, because of the high speeds, has been affectionally named the ‘Finnish Grand Prix’.
Rally Finland has gained iconic status because of its speeds and legendary rollercoaster jumps. The smooth, ultra-fast gravel stages thread their way through forests and around lakes with drivers rewarded for their bravery and commitment, making it a favourite with both drivers and fans alike.
Based in Jyvaskyla in central Finland, the host city turns into a rallying mecca for the weekend with fans flocking from across the world to experience the legendary rally. It’s a carnival atmosphere out on the stages where spectators line the roads to catch a glimpse of their favourite drivers in action.
This year’s event starts on Thursday evening with a fan-friendly street stage in Jyvaskyla. The following day crews tackle stages to the west before Meeke faces a mammoth 14 hours behind the wheel of his Toyota Yaris WRC on Saturday. Sunday finishes with a short loop of stages to the east including the Ruuhimaki Power Stage.
After leading many of the events so far this season and setting a raft of fastest stage times, Meeke will be searching for his first win of the season and maiden victory with the Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team.
Based in Jyvaskyla, it’s the team’s home event and the Yaris WRC has been tested to perfection on these roads.
Kris Meeke said: “It’s incredible to think this is my 100th WRC start and great to be able to celebrate it at the home of rallying. Rally Finland is definitely one of my favourite events with some special memories for me, and I'm really looking forward to taking it on with the Yaris WRC. Finland is where I got my first taste of this car, and we tested there again last week, and the car always feels incredible to drive on those roads.
“It was developed in Finland and we've seen in the last two years just how strong it can be on this rally. I think that everyone in the team is feeling confident about the second part of the season, and hopefully we can kick-start that with a great result in Finland. I'm going to be at a bit of a disadvantage because a lot of the route will be new for me, but I'm ready for the challenge.”