The makers of Neste Rally Finland

The core of the organisation of the Finnish round of the World Rally Championship, Neste Rally Finland, works most of the year in the Vantaa office, where the 15 AKK Sports employees take care of administration, event management, marketing and communications.

The Jyväskylä office joins the organisation in early spring, and the activities in the home town of the rally concentrate especially on building the service park and the city events like the special stage in the city centre. The Vantaa office also moves to Jyväskylä for two weeks just before the event and thus Paviljonki becomes the nerve centre of the whole rally.

In addition to the core organisation, voluntary workers have always played an important role in  arranging the event. Year after year the large network, which consists of 5000 people on the average, helps to build the event by working in the most different roles from safety marshals to media team members. Co-operation with local associations and sports clubs has traditionally been close, and there is a will to cumulate common good in both directions – the compensations paid to voluntary workers form a significant part of the yearly income of many clubs and associations.

Many interesting persons have worked on the rally in the organisation over the years. We’ll now meet rally makers who represent three different generations, and they will tell about their work profile in a bit more detail.

Seija Huuska is an experienced long-term rally maker who you are bound to bump into – whether in the Jyväskylä Paviljonki or working with the local media covering the rally. There have been literally tens of chances to see and hear Seija as 2014 was already her 54th time as a voluntary worker at the event. Seija’s first hands-on experience with the rally was timekeeping when her father coaxed her to become an assistant. Over the years we have also seen her in media and flag raising tasks. Seija’s enthusiasm for the rally has been transmitted to her son Mikko, who has worked as the Neste Rally Finland's Service Park co-ordinator for the last few years.

Mika Häyhänen works as a safety assistant and member of the route team and spends lots of time and does lots of kilometres on the route to be able to compile the safety plans for the national officials as well as for the FIA. The safety plan includes the exact details of, for example, the spectator areas and the technical implementation of the special stages all the way to the rescue equipment, and it even includes the helicopter landing area details for every special stage with an accuracy of one millimetre.

Mika is known as a guy with a great sense of humour and he tours the route together with the rest of the team, which provides firm support as its members are all tough rally professionals: Clerk of the Course Kai Tarkiainen, Deputy Clerk of the Course Seppo Harjanne and Assistant Clerk of the Course Kari Nuutinen, who are in charge of the event, its route and safety in general. Chief Safety Officer Pentti Kangas has a special responsibility for the safety of the special stages, and the permissions to organise the stages as well as stage maintenance arrangements are the responsibility of Route Manager Pekka Tähtinen and Assistant Route Managers Juha Lampinen and Elmeri Mäki-Kulmala.

In case you are interested further in the actions of the Neste Rally Finland route team, Häyhänen has a tip for the rally fans: "Follow Neste Rally Finland on our social media channels, especially the hashtag #reittitiimi. You can also send us questions if you have something on your mind about preparing the route."

Sami Kolsi, who claims to be suffering from something called ‘a quarter of a century age crisis’, represents the younger generation in the organisation and despite his young age has solid experience in motorsport official duties. He started in 2008 as a voluntary jack-of-all-trades at the rally HQ and for the last four years he has worked as the city special stage coordinator.

He has experience of arranging both the Laajavuori and Killeri super special stages, but according to the young man himself the 2014 event is the most memorable so far: he was in charge of the arrangements for the legendary Harju city special stage. In the future we will probably see Sami, who is close to completing his media studies, more involved in the media work and, among other things, lifting the lid of life behind the rally scenes for enthusiastic rally fans.