The Baltic Classic Rally 2017
28 May - 10 June
JUNE 1, 2017
Turku to Jyväskylä
We're not going to the Arctic Circle, so today the Arctic came to us.
One and all agreed that we had indeed enjoyed a fantastic voyage with great food, a ‘unique’ cabaret, clean and comfortable cabins, wine and beer on tap and views to die for. The fact that the Baltic was on its best behaviour also helped somewhat and any rolling and pitching during the night had nothing to do with the sea state.
Upon our arrival in Turku we saw that Finland has a different feel to its Scandinavian neighbour, but one thing that doesn’t change is the quality of the roads. Tarmac or gravel, they are as smooth as those of its neighbour, they rise and fall to circumnavigate the many lakes that the region is famous for. Our destination today is Jyväskylä and on the way we enjoyed some of the famous roads used in the aptly named Rally of a Thousand Lakes.
With all crews disembarking smartly from the ferry on time at 7.00am, and all paperwork having been taken care in advance, we set off at a brisk pace for the MTC some 10km from the port. This brief drive and subsequent short stop for a coffee had some crews looking at the sky which prompted the open car crews to don extra layers and, where possible fixed their hoods.
It was a chilly morning from the off, and by the time that the first test got underway at Ylikä it was a brisk 7°c and raining to boot. Things however were going to get much worse as the day progressed and, local intelligence informed us that this was the coldest June day since 1960.
The second test was found in the woods outside of Tammiainen and the combination of a myriad of tracks and, perhaps a little navigational inattention, saw some cars taking wrong turns and racking up significant penalties. The mercury fell to a low of 3°c at one point while we were here and thick wet sleet blew through the birch forest.
By now we were well on our way to lunch in Tampere though and the organisers, mindful of the fact that the ferry might not have arrived on time had allowed a little slack in the schedule which meant a good long break in the warmth of a well appointed cafeteria. Comfort food was the order of the day for most with bowls of pasta and mugs of hot chocolate being popular choices.
Over lunch we also learned that Julian Reddyhough has a special connection to this very town as his great grandfather was killed in Tampere during WW1.
While some might have been happy to sit a while longer in the snug, fug of lunch pressing on was the order of the day. There was a tarmac circuit test at Kaanaa Auto centre which had the crews powering through never-ending bends lined with beautiful mature trees and gave the trackmeisters among our number something to brag about.
The best of the day had however been saved for last and the third regularity was run along the route of the Humalamaki stage of the Rally of a Thousand Lakes with its multitude of signature rolling off camber turns.
From here the night halt at Jyväskylä was but a short drive and in the carpark of the hotel, the rally legend that is Juha Kankunnen turned up to chat to the drivers and admire the cars.
Juha, who holds the world record for driving a Bentley Continental GT on ice, reckoned Alan was ‘mad to rally an Aston Martin’ to which Alan quickly replied, “I don’t think so, you’re the one doing 200mph - on ice”.
Bill Cleyndert, listening in must have wondered what he could get out of his own vintage Bentley given the right conditions. He and Jacqui Norman still lead the Vintageant category though with Graham and Marina Goodwin in second and Lars and Annette Rolner third. There’s no change in the Classics either. Gavin and Diana Henderson are holding on tightly to the top spot from Mike and Lorna Harrison and Eric Claeys and Rene de Clercq in third.
Finally we’re happy to report that while this is definitively the most northerly point of this rally it’s not the most northerly point of an ERA event. That honour goes to Fairbanks Alaska which we visited in 2012 during the Trans America Challenge. Fairbanks Alaska sits at 64° 50′N while Jyväskylä is 62°14′N.
Tomorrow there’s a lot more fun and games in store for the crews as we drive through the Thousand Lakes to Helsinki.