Finnish drivers delighted the home crowds by securing second and third places in the overall standings, in addition to which, the young Finnish rally prodigy Kalle Rovanperä absolutely dominated the WRC2 Pro class. Also, the 17-year-old Sami Pajari, who drove in Neste Rally Finland thanks to winning the AKK Flying Finn Future Star competition, set the fastest time in the Junior WRC on two special stages before crashing and being forced to retire from his World Rally debut.
This year’s Neste Rally Finland was more popular than ever before. A good indication of this were the record-breaking crowds seen on the very first day already: nearly 18 000 spectators on the Harju city special stage, which is the largest number recorded in the event, when the route has been in its current form. Accurate data about the spectator numbers of the entire four-day event, as well as the economic result, will be revealed after the rally organiser has received all the reports from the Neste service stations, which played a very significant role in the ticket sales.
International rally leaders from as far away as Chile, Kenya and Japan came to Jyväskylä to learn about rally organising, as these countries are back in the World Rally Championship after a long hiatus. The FIA Secretary General for Sport, Peter Bayer was also impressed.
"Neste Rally Finland was something even bigger and more spectacular than I had imagined. Fantastic special stages and an unbelievable finish at the Ruuhimäki Power Stage. Rally Finland is without a doubt one of the most important motorsport events in the world."
The rally organisation and arrangements were praised also by the Finnish Prime Minister and other members of the brand new government attending the event, as well as the Finnish Olympic Committee that visited Rally Finland led by the President of the Olympic Committee Timo Ritakallio and CEO & Secretary General Mikko Salonen.
"It was great to see political decision-makers and the committee well represented at the event and thus showing their support to the policy, according to which Finnish competitive sports at the highest level are more than just the Olympic Sports", says the AKK President Juhani Pakari, pleased.
The popularity of the event was also evident in corporate hospitality, as the Harju VIP areas – on both Thursday and Friday – were sold out well in advance. Something that has never happened before.
"We made slight changes to our VIP strategy and it seemed to be working brilliantly. So much so, that limits were met when it came to both capacity and permits. A new addition was the Premium package, which we will definitely bring back. And the same goes for the sold out “Rally Insider by Flying Finn Academy” for the hard-core rally fans. We have to develop the services even further, so that we don’t run out next time", says Neste Rally Finland Promoter Jani Backman from AKK Sports Ltd.
Neste Rally Finland is televised in over 150 countries. In Finland, the event broadcaster was – after a break of many years – the national public service broadcasting company, Yle. At peak times their 12 live hours attracted an audience of almost 900 000 viewers. Also, the new Rally Radio Plus, which e.g. featured a lot of video material on the radio website, proved to be an instant hit with the rally fans with approximately 1 200 000 launches. The social media channels also achieved high growth rates well before the rally had even started, with more detailed reports coming in at a later date.
"The media reach has been on a completely different level than in the past, even though it was high then too. Good partnership models together with Yle and Mediahouse Keskisuomalainen gained sizeable reaches straightaway, complemented by the rest of the channel package with an upward trend. We had 500 accredited media representatives at the event, which is also more than before", analyses Rita Pasanen, the Marketing Communications Manager at AKK Sports Ltd.
Rally Finland proved that Finnish motorsport continues to have strong appeal and that it plays an important role in the cohesion of the nation.
"Since 2016, we have been able to double the entire motorsport partner sales. The most important factors behind the good results are our wide range of different products, our ability to meet modern needs as well as our high quality", says Heli Kemppainen, the Commercial Director at AKK Sports Ltd.
World’s leading rally commentator Colin Clark summed up Neste Rally Finland in a very clear fashion:
"Rally Finland itself was once again a massive winner. The best rally in the world by a very long way continues to deliver on just about every level. It sets the standard that every other rally aspires to. Brilliantly organised it goes from strength to strength and stands out as being one of the world's great sporting events."
The next time we will see world-class international motorsport in Finland is 6 - 8 September, when the PowerPark circuit in Ala-Härmä, Western Finland, plays host to the Flying Finn Race, i.e. the FIA Karting World Championship for OK and OK Junior classes, with over 200 participating drivers.
Rally organiser AKK Sports Ltd:
President Juhani Pakari, [email protected], +358 45 679 7979
Promoter Jani Backman, [email protected], +358 40 522 4346
Clerk of the Course Kai Tarkiainen, [email protected], +358 40 846 6766
Marketing Communications Manager Rita Pasanen, [email protected], +358 44 545 9919
Commercial Director Heli Kemppainen, [email protected], +358 40 705 9975
CEO Tatu Lehmuskallio, [email protected], +358 400 414 860
Please access the Neste Rally Finland photo gallery here.