RallycrossRX Round Four : Finland

by Hal Ridge |

The FIA European Rallycross Championship heads north next week for the first of three Scandinavian events on the bounce. First up is round four; Kouvola, Finland (June 8 – 9).

Your mental image of the archetypal Nordic rallycross track will not be a million miles away from the circuit you will find at Kouvola. Tykkimaki has evolved from a karting track (a new facility next door means karts no longer share the circuit) and is now a multi-use site incorporating motocross, driver training and rallycross.

Spectators cannot quite see the whole track, the gravel section climbs steeply off turn one and loops behind some trees before plunging back into the ‘stadium’ section. Elevated terraces along the start straight offer a great view of the start and the crucial drag race to the first corner; a right hander that leads to the surface change. 

Those terraces also allow a good view of the twisty infield section, joker lap and finish line so, all-in-all, this is a good venue for spectators. If the stands are not your thing, there is trackside viewing from the top of the hill in the long gravel section. From up there you will miss most of the first corner action, but will see the cars in full attack on the quick loose-surface dash over the hill which includes one of the two jumps in the track – the other just before the finish line.

Last year RallycrossRX 2013 round three winner, Timmy Hansen, made his European Rallycross championship debut at Kouvola. In a one-off appearance, the young Swede made his intentions felt in that first event, making the A Final. A fast learner, Hansen now has a pretty good idea of his way around the Kouvola track.

“The main thing about Finland is that it has no gravel corners,” says Hansen. “There are a few with gravel entries, but tarmac after that. The two or three jumps are crucial; you have to make sure you land smoothly, to be able to make the next corner.”

“The first corner is a quick right that tightens onto bumpy gravel. You have to be very smooth here. Then up the hill, where there is really only one line for the whole weekend. You’re braking on gravel, from sixth gear down to fourth, it’s quite open but once you get onto the tarmac it tightens. There are two jumps which are quickly followed by a hairpin right. It’s steep downhill, with the approach on gravel. Every lap you think you have braked too early but you haven’t, it’s important to get the car slowed down so you can keep tight in the hairpin. If you go wide you loose a lot of time. Then a short straight into a very long left hander, where the grip levels are constantly changing because of the compressions mid-corner, then it’s a little jump into the entry for the last corner. It’s tricky here, last year Tanner Foust was very good at using this to kick the rear of the car around, so that is something I’m going to work on.”

Overall, the circuit is very similar to that of round three, Hungary, with its mix of fast and slow corners, in a similarly beautiful location.

For all of that, this is a notably urban venue, just a few minutes from Kouvola centre and everything that a bustling and energetic town has to offer on a summer weekend.






« »