The Finnish round of the FIA World Rally Championship had to be rescheduled for 2021 due to the COVID‑19 pandemic, but the WRC atmosphere is still as strong as ever in the Central Finnish rally capital. The list of participants at the Neste Rally Finland eChallenge puts a smile on a motorsport fans face - among the participants are rally aces like Kalle Rovanperä, Esapekka Lappi and Teemu Suninen, former Formula One driver Mika Salo as well as visiting international drivers such as Takamoto Katsuta. Some of the drivers get to showcase their digital driving skills in advance too, in the shootout competition organised as part of the eWRC concept governed by the World Rally Championship promoter. The shootout can be seen on the WRC and Neste Rally Finland social media channels on 30 July - 1 August. Both the preliminary competition and the actual event itself will be run on selected virtual special stages in Central Finland, which are also featured in the official WRC game.
“It’s fantastic to take part in the Neste Rally Finland eChallenge. The entire rally community deserves some hype and great rally atmosphere this year – and to enjoy it all together. It’s great to see this event bringing people together from across the board, from different motorsport series and disciplines. And it will also definitely demonstrate why digital motorsport is constantly crowing in popularity. We haven’t been told which Neste Rally Finland special stages we’ll be driving in the WRC game, yet, but I hope they have included a couple of my favourite ones”, says the WRC driver Esapekka Lappi with a smile.
“This is going to be fun! It’s great to also get to see the guys there in Jyväskylä, in the event. Digital motorsport is very cool, and it’ll be interesting to see how well everyone will do in the preliminary competition too. Digital motorsport is much more than just turning the steering wheel! It challenges the driver just like the traditional kind. You can also really get into it. I guess I’ll have to try and rely on my experience and let the younger guys go crazy”, smirks the former Formula One driver Mika Salo.
Motorsport entertainment via Yle and WRC throughout the day
In addition to the Neste Rally Finland eChallenge, the Jyväskylä harbour sets the stage for the exciting 2020 Digital Racing Finnish Championship finals, featuring the top 20 of Finnish drivers with their iRacing simulators. The event will also feature live interviews, a range of different activities, lounge areas provided by the event partners as well as bar and restaurant services. The more official part of the day is the signing of the three-year partnership contract between the city of Jyväskylä and the Finnish round of the World Rally Championship amidst the great rally atmosphere.
“Our goal together with our partners is to organise a totally new, entertaining and responsible event that reaches both national and international spectators. We also wish to provide the people in and around Jyväskylä a special, positive rally experience during these exceptional times and this unusual summer. The ever-growing digital motorsport scene is a great platform for AKK to bring together all the drivers, spectators, enthusiasts and our partners, in the spirit of the new motorsport era. Come and enjoy the great day of motorsport responsibly, on your own and together – entertainment is guaranteed”, says the CEO of AKK, Markus Häkkinen.
“AKK has come up with a new and innovative way of organising a rally and thus continue providing great experiences for the Finnish and international rally fans alike – not forgetting all the new motorsport followers either. We hope that this virtual competition along with the ‘Life Happens. Rally Helps.’ social media campaign will bring some joy to all rally fans during this extraordinary year”, says the Marketing Director of Neste, Sirpa Tuomi.
WRC will be streaming the event live on their social media channels and the Finnish public service broadcaster Yle will cover the finals as well as the podium ceremonies live on 8 August from 19:00 - 20:30 (Finnish time). In the AKK channels, the digital motorsport day will be followed especially in Neste Rally Finland’s social media.
Gates to the event area in the Jyväskylä harbour will open to the public at 11:30 and close at 21:00. The free of charge event will be organised responsibly and in accordance with all the current restrictions and safety recommendations related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This means e.g. that the number of visitors to the event area will be limited to a total of 1 000. The harbour is located near the Jyväskylä city centre and can be easily accessed on foot or by bicycle. For those arriving by car or motorbike, the city of Jyväskylä is providing free parking in ‘Lutakonaukio’ (Lutakko Square).
AKK / Markus Häkkinen, acting CEO, [email protected], +358 40 551 0289
AKK’s Neste Rally Finland eChallenge brings motorsport stars together in the digital motorsport event organised in the Jyväskylä harbour, Jyväskylä, Finland, on 8 August 2020. In addition to the digital WRC challenge, the free event features the 2020 Digital Racing Finnish Championship finals and a wide range of entertainment for the visitors. Fans can enjoy the action either live in the Jyväskylä harbour or via the Yle and WRC streams. Taking part in the Neste Rally Finland eChallenge are e.g. WRC stars Kalle Rovanperä, Esapekka Lappi and Teemu Suninen as well as former F1 driver and commentator Mika Salo. The Neste Rally Finland eChallenge event is organised responsibly in accordance with the restrictions and recommendations of the Finnish Government.