The safety work of the Finnish round of the World Rally Championship is a year-round project.
When one World Rally Championship event in Finland is over, the safety team will begin to outline the upcoming rally so that next year’s event will be as good as possible. The safe and smooth spectator experience is part of the foundation of Rally Finland, which is reflected in the scale of the activity and the level that is one of the highest in the world in Finland.
The best in the world in organising
The Finnish round of the World Rally Championship has been selected as the best in the world for several years. According to Pentti Kangas, Chief Safety Officer, the explanation for this can be found in the long tradition of organising competitions and the very high standard of doing it. In addition to the basic level, there is also extra work on top of it.
Our expertise is also well known worldwide, and our experts have been consulting overseas and have assisted in international rally route planning and safety work.
One of the biggest projects ahead of the event is the safety plan of about 200 pages required by the FIA, the International Automobile Federation. In the case of the Finnish round of World Rally Championship, the plan will be compiled from January, starting with the sketching of maps, rescue routes, viewing areas, paths, and crossing points. It is the result of a large risk management operation designed to take into account all possible influencing factors.
In addition to accuracy and precision, the job requires a good understanding of how cars may behave during special stages – not just in the normal course, but also in the event of an unexpected situation. In the more than twenty special stages, there will be around 60-70 spectators’ areas, other areas such as yards will also be considered.
Last check – everything ready
In the days leading up to the Rally Finland, all special stages will be gone through one more time to ensure that everything is in order for the rally. The rally route is several hundred kilometers long, and every single kilometer of the road is planned, licensed, and co-ordinated for safety. Everything planned and organised during the spring culminates in these pre-rally days.
Pentti Kangas, Chief Safety Officer, Mika Häyhänen, Safety Assistant, as well as the Chiefs and Safety Officer of each special stage are always present in the final check. There are dozens of issues to cover in the Protocol.
In practice, getting the special stage ready for the rally means that official spectators’ areas will not only be safe but also 100% ready when the special stage begins. Construction includes building fences, lining walkways and installing various signage, prohibition, and restriction signs. About a week before the rally, the elements should mainly be built.
Safety and crisis preparedness is not only a matter of seamless cooperation with various partners but also of continuous vigilance and preparedness. On the special stages, there is a helicopter and an ambulance ready to go. In addition, divers will be located along the route and there will always be a qualified doctor at the message point.
Teamwork will be rewarded
The safety of special stages is the sum of many different parties. There are authorities from the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment to the Police, as well as the safety people of organising motorsport clubs and associations in the area. The number of people needed to conduct just one special stage is enormous, the amount being easily over 150 people.
All in all, the amount of work involved is huge in providing spectators with a rally experience that is, above all, safe. The official spectators’ areas are a combined effort of the route and safety team and special stage organisers, made for the entire Rally World Championship crowd.
One of the best prizes after the event, not only for the safety team but for the entire Finnish rally culture, is a well-completed event.
Let’s continue the good work of making the world’s best rallies, together!