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Amazing Rally Finland!

September 7, 2010

I have never been to a rally as a spectator – I’ve always preferred to see the action from inside the rally car… Until this year’s WRC Rally Finland.

Crazy Leo arrived to Neste Oil Rally Finland, July 2010
Grand Prix on Gravel is probably one of the most prestigious rallies in the world to win. In its 60 years of existence, only 4 non-Scandinavian drivers were able to take the top step on the podium here.

Rally Finland is probably the most exciting rally to watch; not only because of the gigantic jumps and the massive speeds the rally cars can reach on the smooth wide and flowing gravel roads, but also because Finland is a spiritual home of rallying. Ask me ‘why’ – and I will tell you a story about a hotel owner in Jämsä, who wrote a book about Juha Kankkunen’s career. It seem like everyone in the country has a connection to the sport.

This is only the 4th ever post in my new blog and here’s what I decided. Crazy Leo is all about doing, not watching, so I won’t bore you with the spectator’s stuff, instead I will share the experience of DOING. You may wonder – what is there to do in Finland on the rally week-end?

Get your hands on any car you can find,

The car rented by Crazy Leo in Jyvaskyla

get the maps,

The maps of Neste Oil Rally 2010 stages

get the co-pilote (preferably a girl, they scream louder)

Crazy Leo's cool co-driver in Finland

and DRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE the stages after the event! After is always better – you can see the lines.

What a great feeling has it been to drive the legendary roads that have seen 60 years of the most exciting, flat out, committed driving to mankind!

The unforgiving roads that have claimed hundreds (thousands?) of cars, breaking the hearts of many teams and drivers in the process. But to the very selected few, experiencing the glory of victory is worth its weight in gold. Roads that have inspired great champions and turned some of them into legends, like Marcus Grönholm (tops Crazy Leo’s best ever motorsports driver chart) who won here 7 (!) times!

In the 35 hours that I had in the area I spent only 4 sleeping. The rest was spent on injecting my body with adrenalin. My 1.4 liter rental VW Polo didn’t need much fuel, but I still had to fill up from time to time. The Neste Oil gas station in Jämsä had a variety of Nightwish CDs. I’ve always like this symphonic metal band, but I had no idea that they were Finnish! Getting some authentic tunes made the experience absolute!

To say that the roads are flowing and natural is to say nothing. The roads are SO FLOWING, and SO NATURAL that I realized where the God of Rallying lives… right here!! You can enjoy carrying the momentum from one bend to another simply by reading the tree line and relying on your instincts while enjoying some great vocal. I absolutely loved the early mornings in the Finnish forests.

Forest gravel road in Finland

The sun rise, the gir… I mean the co-pilote, the gravel… and more gravel… and more and more of that smooth, fast, legendary Finnish Gravel Surface.

Some jumps are meant to be taken flat out in the rally cars. The best ones are side jumps, when you’re flying sideways. Show me a driver who hasn’t experienced this at least ones and I’ll tell them that they are wasting their limbs on driving from A to B.

One jump is just scary: the road is so steep that it looks like you’re driving into a huge wave (remember ‘The Perfect storm’?) and it feels like if you pin it, the car will flip backwards. The other side is just as dramatic – the Earth disappears, and you feel like you went skydiving inside your car. It’s a good thing my little Polo is a very light car.

It’s been amazing to have this experience. Emotions do fade away with time, but I shall never forget what I felt. Being right there, right after your heroes drove the roads, being a part of the best thing the rally world has to offer – and at the same time not having to spend tens of thousands of dollars on running the rally – makes you experience an endless emotional orgasm. Don’t get me wrong: racing Rally Finland is probably even better, but it’s different… in competition we just won’t have the time to sit back, take a deep breath and FEEL THE MAGIC OF THE PLACE.

Whenever the speakers played the first notes of the ‘Sleeping Sun’, the harmony of the moment reached its climax.

[audio:|titles=Sleeping Sun|artists=Nightwish]
“I wish for this night time to last for a lifetime!”

Kitos, Suomi! Kitos, Rally of the Thousand Lakes!

P.S. As much as I admire Sebastien Loeb’s rally genius, Petter Solberg’s charisma, Ogier’s talent, I was happy to witness a Finish driver to take the top honors in Finland. The fans deserved it. Congrats, Jari-Matti.

Neste Oil Rally 2010 Podium

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posted in Blog by Crazy Leo

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