WRC

Finland Ford Escort Preview

World Rally Championship AFTER THE LONGEST JOURNEY OF THE YEAR TO NEW ZEALAND, THE FORD WORLD RALLY TEAM MAKES THE SOMEWHAT SHORTER TRIP TO SCANDINAVIA THIS WEEK FOR ROUND 10 OF THE FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP, THE RALLY...

World Rally Championship AFTER THE LONGEST JOURNEY OF THE YEAR TO NEW ZEALAND, THE FORD WORLD RALLY TEAM MAKES THE SOMEWHAT SHORTER TRIP TO SCANDINAVIA THIS WEEK FOR ROUND 10 OF THE FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP, THE RALLY FINLAND, WHICH BEGINS IN JYVÄSKYLÄ ON FRIDAY. REGULAR WORKS DRIVERS JUHA KANKKUNEN, BIDDING FOR A RECORD FIFTH WORLD CROWN, AND BRUNO THIRY WILL DRIVE THEIR USUAL VALVOLINE-BACKED ESCORT WORLD RALLY CARS. THEY WILL BE JOINED FOR THIS EVENT BY 1981 WORLD CHAMPION ARI VATANEN, WHO WILL DRIVE A THIRD FORD-ENTERED ESCORT ON HIS HOME RALLY. THIS WILL BE VATANEN'S THIRD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP OUTING OF THE SEASON, HAVING REPLACED THE INJURED THIRY IN BOTH KENYA AND PORTUGAL. THE THREE-DAY GRAVEL RALLY, FAMOUS FOR ITS HIGH SPEEDS AND HUGE JUMPS, IS ONE OF THE CLASSIC EVENTS IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP. DRIVERS FACE 24 SPECIAL STAGES COVERING 384KM IN A TOTAL ROUTE OF 1271KM. IT FINISHES ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON. RALLY ORGANISERS ARE ARRANGING A COMPREHENSIVE MULTI-LANGUAGE RADIO STATION SERVICE TO UPDATE THE HUGE CROWDS FOLLOWING THE EVENT WITH NEWS AND RESULTS FROM THE STAGES. JUHA KANKKUNEN --"This is my home event so obviously I want to finish in a strong position. Doing well in Finland in front of my own fans is always nice but to win in any part of the world gives me great pleasure, personally and for the Ford team. There is a huge media interest around this rally and being Finns much of that is focused on the fight between myself and my fellow countryman, Tommi Mäkinen. But I've been competing on this rally for more than 15 years and so I'm quite used to the pressures from the media. Anyway, I don't think the rally will be simply a battle between Tommi and myself. There are many other drivers who could win but having said that I'm confident about Ford's chances. The Escort is a good rally car. We spent a week testing in Finland last month and won the Channel Four Rally, a round of the Finnish Championship, after the test so we know the ideal set-up for the car and we know it goes well on Finnish roads."

BRUNO THIRY -- "The Rally Finland is difficult for foreign drivers to come to terms with. The most important aspect in driving quickly is to use all the road to obtain the best line through the corners. You have to know precisely where to position the wheels to ensure maximum speed through the bends. This is where the Finns are so good because they understand the flowing nature of the roads. But for foreign drivers it's not so easy because if you cut the corners by just 10cm too much you can end up in a heavy accident. It's one of the fastest gravel rallies in the world and it's very hard to translate the roads from the pace notes. Because it's so fast the co-drivers don't have the time to explain every bump, twist and turn and that just adds to the difficulty. But for a driver like myself who really enjoys the best aspects of the sport, this rally is superb. It's perhaps the most beautiful event in the World Championship, so fast, so challenging and so enjoyable when a stage goes really well." ARI VATANEN -- "Experience is the key to this rally and Finnish drivers have a big advantage over those not used to the roads in my country. But drivers like Carlos Sainz and Didier Auriol, who have competed on this rally many times, have amassed enough experience to be on an equal footing with the Finns. But there's an added advantage for Finns like Juha Kankkunen, Tommi Mäkinen, Jarmo Kytolehto and Harri Rovanpera. They all live in the area around the rally base of Jyväskylä and know the roads well. The reduced recce allows us to drive the stages only three times before the event and we cannot hope to know the roads as well as those guys. The nature of Finnish stages is unique, you find nothing like them on any other rally in the world. They are not rough, just fast, wide and very flowing with constant turns and enormous jumps requiring huge commitment from the drivers. It's a Grand Prix on gravel roads. It takes great courage from the drivers and a heavy reliance on your pace notes to attack blind jumps at maximum speed, knowing in the back of your mind that the road almost certainly twists one way or the other over the crest. That's why selecting the correct line before a jump is so crucial." MALCOLM WILSON, Ford World Rally Team Director --"This is one of the biggest events in the calendar for any driver or team manager. It's one rally everybody wants to win and I'm no different. The Ford World Rally team is taking everything to the limit in terms of car specification and we're going all out to win. It's important that the Escort wins a World Championship event in its final year as a works car and this rally is one of the jewels in the World Championship crown. Apart from the usual cars of Juha and Bruno, we've also prepared Escort World Rally Cars for Ari Vatanen and Sebastian Lindholm and they could play a big part in the final outcome, especially Sebastian. He is fired up and driving very, very quickly. It's quite conceivable that he could finish well up the order and take points away from those drivers chasing World Championship points and that could assist Juha's own title hopes. I think both Ari and Sebastian sense the importance of this rally to Ford and they will be trying to do all they can to assist our efforts."

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Series WRC
Drivers Tommi Makinen , Carlos Sainz , Harri Rovanpera , Didier Auriol , Juha Kankkunen , Ari Vatanen