Mladá Boleslav, 30 July 2019 – After powering the new ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo to two WRC 2
Pro category wins in a row – plus winning Rally Chile with the predecessor model –, Kalle
Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen (FIN/FIN) can hardly wait to start Neste Rally
Finland (01-04/08/2019). Understandably, his home game in front of ten thousands of
compatriots is something very special for 18 years old Rovanperä. Last year, he was clearly
the fastest driver of the field of R5 competitors, but a technical mishap eventually relegated
him to fourth place. Instead, ŠKODA privateers Eerik Pietarinen/Juhana Raitanen were the
WRC 2 winners. Now they are aiming for a top result again, for the second time nominated to
score points in the WRC 2 Pro category by ŠKODA Motorsport.
During his first Neste Rally Finland back in 2018, Kalle Rovanperä was 16 times the fastest WRC 2
driver on the 23 special stages. But a suspension issue did cost him a possible win. This year, the
current leader of the championship’s WRC 2 Pro category wants to settle the bill with his home
event. “I love to drive this fast and smooth gravel stages in my home country. We had good tests
before the rally and the setup of our ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo works very well. I feel confident with the
car, and that is very important on these fantastic stages,” emphasizes Rovanperä.
ŠKODA Motorsport boss Michal Hrabánek said: “We know, that Kalle and Eerik are really fast. Now
they have to be as well cool and smart in front of their home crowd in Finland. I hope, they will
provide ŠKODA Motorsport with the points we need to take the outright lead in the manufacturer’s
standings of the WRC 2 Pro championship.”
In the WRC 2 category for private teams, French ŠKODA crew Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais
lately showed a remarkable performance on gravel by winning the class in Portugal and
Italy/Sardinia. With a good result from Finland, they even could move into the overall lead of the
WRC 2 championship.
First rally of a customer team with the new ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo
Two weeks before Neste Rally Finland, Eerik Pietarinen’s team boss Toni Gardemeister in Mladá
Boleslav picked up the very first ŠKODA FABIA R5 evo delivered to a customer. In Finland
Pietarinen will drive the car for the first time. “I have good memories of my victory last year, and I
cannot wait to drive the new FABIA,” is the young Finn looking forward to the upcoming ninth round
of the FIA World Rally Championship 2019.
Legendary challenge with numerous jumps on gravel
Neste Rally Finland offers 23 special stages totalling more than 307 kilometres mostly on fast and
smooth gravel roads. A unique feature are the countless jumps – some passages really resemble a
roller coaster. Due to the high-speed passages, the Finnish round of the FIA World Rally
Championship 2019 unofficially carries the subtitle “Finnish Gravel Grand Prix”. After kicking off on
Thursday evening with a Super Special Stage “Harju” in the streets of Jyväskylä close to the
service park, the Friday leg will run over ten special stages of around 126 kilometres. The longest
day of the rally will be the Saturday with eight special stages totalling nearly 133 kilometres. Like
last year, Sunday will bring the final decision with four stages. The winners will reach the podium in
Jyväskylä around 16h00 local time.
Did you know, that...
...the event first took place in 1951 under the name “Jyväskilän Suurajot”?
…the event was called the “Rally of the Thousand Lakes” from 1959 to 1996, before it was renamed
Rally Finland, today additionally carrying the name of sponsor Neste?
…in 1973 the “Rally of the Thousand Lakes” was included into the calendar of the then new World
…the biggest jump ever allegedly was achieved in 1975 by former rally cross driver Jusso
Kynsilehto, who with legendary British motoring journalist Martin Holmes on the co-driver’s seat
flew 72 metres? Unfortunately, there was no road on the car’s landing point and they rolled four
…the rally ending Power Stage, the eleven kilometres of “Ruuhimäki”, according to the event
organizers, will have a real flying finish with a so called “monster jump”?
…Finnish drivers won 55 out of the so far 68 editions of their home round?
The calendar of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2 Pro)
Great Britain 03/10/–06/10/2019