After a mid-season break, the second and exciting half of the 2012 World Rally Championship is back on with the rally of blind crests, big jumps and fastest stages in the WRC calendar which fondly called as Finnish GP on gravel. Originally a Scandinavian's only rally winners event has seen non-Scandinavian's winning too starting with Carlos Sainz in 1990, but only a few succeded .
Welcome to Rally Finland, proudly promoted by the homeland company Neste Oil, simply put the rally is termed NORF for Neste Oil Rally Finland. The history of the event dates back to '1000 Lakes rally' as it was called then in early 1960's, where the initial rallies were held in 'stage format' racing against the clock, which was pretty close to the current WRC format.
Coming back from the brief history, the last year's winner the 8-time consecutive unbeaten World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb is the man to watch out along with the fastest Finn's Citroen WRT's & Loeb's team mate Mikko Hirvonen, who lost out the last event as he crashed on the very first stage of the NORF 2011.
His former team-mate and Ford WRT's Jari-Matti Latvala is also a serious contender and has the reputation of going flat-out, but also has equal or more share of crashes. Now Ford WRT's no1 driver Petter Solberg's Ouninpohja stage's record still holds good till-date and he too is one to watch out this weekend. With the top two works team on the listing, Prodrive Mini WRC team's Daniel Sordo is yet another non-Scandinavian who has the potential
and is back, but is absent!
Down the top 5, the Russian Evgeny Novikov has the pace, but still not the right kind of experience, however his insane jump over a crest is still doing the rounds. Thierry Neuville is young and fast on the Citroen Junior WRT, and since Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah is in the Olympics, his car is driven by invitational driver and former Subaru WRT driver Australian Chris Atkinson fondly called Atko in the Citroen DS3 WRC.
However his speed still questionable as he has driven the current regulations car only in Rally Mexico of Monster WRT, a Ford Fiesta WRC. Norwegian Mads Ostberg will be driving his Fiesta WRC, and could be on a serious contest too. Well, there are many more privateers who have the speed, but not the luck and support of a works team. Finnish Jari Ketoma will be on the attack too, with his Ford Fiesta WRC supported by DMack Tires.
Coming to the S2000 attack VW Motorsports are the VIP's here, but they too are more interested in learning curve for the development of the Polo R WRC for the next season. Proton Motorsports, another works team are there with P.G.Andersson who has the reputation and speed to make it to the top along with Alister McRae [younger brother of Colin McRae]. New Zealander Hayden Paddon has moved to another Austrian team Baumschlager Rallye & Racing who are supporting his attack and is one to watch, after his recent success in his hometurf.
WRC Academy has the top three who are doing good, but in comparision to the 2011 season, the opening of the Academy, it is not so celebrity anymore. However, with the recent happenings on the top order, .ie., the WRC itself we cannot complain more! Alastair Fisher tops with 46 points on the aggregate, followed by Elfyn Evans with 38points on the chart, closely followed by Brendan Reeves with 35points standing third overall.