August 18, 2016 @ 03:39 PM

​Over 1300 of horses take on the iconic Rally Finland track

Volkswagen Polo R WRC meet the Kamaz 4326, it will be your “co-driver” in the Rally Finland.

The setting: Rally Finland

Known to be the fastest event in the World Rally Championship. Only six drivers from countries outside the Nordic has ever won here. The track is famous for its high number of jumps hence getting the nickname “The Rally of Thousand Jumps”.

The challenge: take on the famous Ouninpohja stage

This is the most famous competitive section of Rally Finland and it is where all the high-speed jumps are concentrated on. The biggest jump is located 6km away from the start line where spectators will get to watch the rally cars fly through the air at top speed and land a distance away. Markko Martin holds the record for the longest jump travelling 187ft in the air at a speed of 171kph.

Three-time Rally Finland winner, lead the way

While it’s usual to see the 318bhp Volkswagen Polo R WRC car taking on the Rally Finland, it definitely is rare to see the Kamaz 4326 truck tracking through the greeneries. The Polo was piloted by Jari-Matti Latvala, while the Kamaz is piloted by Russia’s Ayrat Mardeev.

Latvala has experienced the delights of Rally Finland a number of times in the past and has won the Rally three times in 2010, 2014 and 2015. Mardeev, on the other hand, has never driven in Rally Finland before, instead the Russian is the winner of the Dakar truck category in 2015 and the Silk Way Rally that travels from Moscow to China just this year.

The odds cannot be anymore far apart. The VW Polo R WRC gets power from a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine while the Kamaz is powered by a 16.2-litre diesel engine. The Polo weighs in at meagre 900kg compared to the 10,200kg Kamaz.

If you think that the Polo will easily pull away think again.

“When you accelerate in the car, the power goes down so quickly that it takes some time for the truck to catch up,” Latvala pointed out. “But the funny thing is that under braking, when the truck is coming a bit closer, you really feel like you want to run away. You don’t want it to touch you.”

For Mardeev, jumping across hills and crests is all in a day’s work on the roads of Dakar but he couldn’t help be express that driving across the Ouninpohja stage is just more special.

“In rally raids this happens all the time: during the day we lose count of how many times we jump and fly,” he explained. “But this place is one of the most legendary in the whole championship. Maybe not even so much for the jump itself, but more because of its location and its importance for the championship. So for Jari-Matti and me such activity it’s the meaning of our lives. We can’t live without it. You could call it an adrenaline addiction.”

Latvala, on the other hand, is still brimming with amazement at the Kamaz’s talent when taking on the Rally Finland. “I was surprised how far the truck jumps,” he said afterwards. “It’s really quite something; I got goose bumps.”

Tracking around Rally Finland with the Kamaz has opened Latvala’s eyes, the Fin expressed that perhaps he might follow in the footsteps of the rally champions like Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen.

“I have to say that now I’m excited: maybe after my rally career I should go to the Dakar and drive a truck,” he concluded. “That would be a good experience for me and then I would have it in my museum later on. I know that Loeb and the others have been driving the Dakar cars, but actually I’m more excited about the trucks now…”

Jerrica Leong 

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