Rally Finland set to slow its stages for 2017 World Rally Cars
|By David Evans||Tuesday, April 4th 2017, 09:17 GMT|
Rally Finland, the fastest event in the World Rally Championship, has been forced to consider ways of artificially slowing its famous roads down for the 2017-specification cars.
The FIA demonstrated its concerns over rising average speeds with the cancellation of a Rally Sweden stage deemed too fast earlier this season, when Ott Tanak's Ford Fiesta WRC registered an average of 85.63mph on the first pass of the 20-mile Knon test.
Last year's Rally Finland featured six stages with an average of more than 80mph and it is thought that number could rise to 87mph on the most famous of all its stages, Ouninpohja, with the new generation of World Rally Cars.
In a route issued last month, Ouninpohja - which returns to running in its more traditional direction of Hamepohja to Kakaristo - was cut in length to accommodate live television.
Stages taking each car around 12 minutes are preferred for TV and the full-length version was expected to take a shade over 15 minutes, but in trimming the length, organisers have removed the slower, narrower section.
"This narrow section in Ouninpohja would bring the average speed down," Toyota's Jari-Matti Latvala told Autosport.
"The FIA is worried after Sweden and the second day's stages in Finland this year, Ouninpohja, Paijala and Pihlajakoski, are all going to be very fast.
"We could even see a 140km/h [87mph] average on these stages."
Latvala expects drastic action to cut speeds and avoid the need to cancel stages.
"I think they will make some artificial chicanes to slow the cars down and this is not the characteristic of the roads in Finland," he said.
"It's unnatural on gravel [to have chicanes], it's a bit more normal on asphalt.
"It's fair to say the drivers don't like this."
Rally Finland clerk of the course Kai Tarkiainen conceded the needs to contain average speeds would inevitably have an impact.
"We will have to do something, that's quite clear," he told Autosport.
"We have talked to the FIA, to Michele [Mouton, FIA safety delegate] and Jarmo [Mahonen, FIA rally director] about this and they're very much in favour of trying to use some natural kind of chicanes, by maybe taking the cars briefly onto a smaller road for a short loop or going to long way around a junction.
"We're keen to do this to try to avoid dragging concrete or whatever's needed for a chicane into a stage in the middle of nowhere.
"Using junctions also makes the recce easier - with open public roads, we can't set the chicane up and this can make things a bit vague."