Neste Oil Rally Finland 2012

Known affectionately as the Finnish Grand Prix, the Rally Finland traditionally turns the student city of Jyvaskyla into a motorsport Mecca on the first weekend of August as fans converge in their tens of thousands to savour the dramatic action on the compacted gravel stages and lap up the carnival atmosphere.
Over the years few non-Finns have triumphed on the event due to the specialist nature of the stages with their endless series of twists, corners and jumps. Marcus Gronholm, a seven-time Neste Oil Rally Finland winner, famously said: "You need courage but the pacenotes have to be perfect because they tell you where to place the car on the road before taking off flat-out over a blind crest. You have to have maximum trust and faith in your co-driver."
When multiple world champion Sebastien Loeb won the event for his first time in 2008, he said had never taken such huge risks to defeat Mikko Hirvonen and revealed prior to the 2010 rally that he would never do so again; for the record he triumphed for a second time in 2011 following another stunning drive!
Loeb, driving a factory Citroen DS3 WRC, completed Wednesday's qualification stage. the 4.26-kilometre Ruuhimaki test in a time of 2m17.470s, 0.555s faster than works Ford pilot and leading Finnish driver Jari-Matti Latvala.
Loeb's Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen was third fastest, 0.806s down on Loeb, with Petter Solberg, in the second factory Fiesta RS WRC, fourth after the Norwegian reported making "one small mistake." He was 1.219s off Loeb's pace.
As fastest qualifier Loeb has elected to start the rally in 10th place on the road with Latvala electing for 11th and Loeb's Citroen teammate Mikko Hirvonen 12th.
Neste Oil Rally Finland begins with a number of stages on the afternoon of Thursday 2 August

2nd August, 2012