After experiencing the short Harju stage of WRC Rally Finland in the town of Jyvaskla, I finally arrived to wide and fast Finnish gravel at SS Jukjarvi. The hour drive out of town to reach the stage passes a predictably Scandinavian scene of tall pines and moss stretching as far as the 1000 lakes they envelope.
Turning off the highway we drive on an access road to Special Stage 12 that will also become a section of rally track later in the day, but unfortunately our chariot is only a 15-seater bus.
The vibe at Jukojarvi is reminiscent of a musical festival, a large paddock is home to a sprawl of vehicles from small Opel Agila As to decked out motorhomes from the eighties. Fans fortunate to be parked in pole position by the track set-up on their roofs to watch the action while a crowd lines the road with flags, beer and camp chairs. The Finnish seem to drink as well as they drive; there are a fair few empties around and its only 9.30am.
The stretch I’m on is reasonably quick, and with a small jump I finally get to see some of the WRC birds in flight. There are safety barriers and Finnish flags fencing the road but a short stroll along the track and you will find yourself a quiet secluded strip to enjoy.
As each car makes it way towards the section its sharp rasp is temporarily broken by the cut of the TV helicopter chasing it. The thunder moves in closer, cameras are raised and when it’s a Fin doing the steering flags are waving.
In just 20 minutes the R1 cars have passed by and to get to SS Horkka on time we need to move out, but everyone else will stay for the second pass at Jukjarvi later in the day, and continue the festivities.