COVID-19 has already wreaked havoc on the 2021 World Rally Championship schedule, and its path of destruction continues. The iconic, snow-covered (well, most of the time) Rally Sweden has long been nixed from the calendar, but various other changes had it looking like we wouldn’t see any snow events this year. Now, though, Arctic Rally Finland has stepped in.
Taking place from February 26-28, Arctic Rally Finland will be the first of two WRC events in the country, the second taking place in the warmer part of the season. It will be located near the city of Rovaniemi, where temperatures can reach lows of -22 degrees Fahrenheit. It lies just outside the Arctic Circle and is known as being the home of Santa Claus. The event will be run with strict COVID-19 measures in place, which could mean fans are barred from attending.
“Since it was confirmed in December that Rally Sweden would not take place, we’ve been working hard with AKK Sports, the city of Rovaniemi and the enthusiasts there to try to make this event happen,” WRC Promoter managing director Jona Siebel said. “It’s been a tough race against time and my thanks go to all involved. Although the rally starts in just 44 days, we know AKK will leave no stone unturned to ensure it reaches the same high standards as the traditional summertime Rally Finland.”
In terms of format, a traditional shakedown will take place on Friday morning and will be followed by opening special stages in the evening. On Saturday, drivers will take on three stages, then take them on a second time. Sunday sees the finale of the event, which includes the Power Stage, where teams can earn bonus points. The event spans about 260 kilometers, or just over 160 miles.
WRC officials sound confident at the moment that the rest of the season will be able to take place as scheduled, but that will certainly remain to be seen. The prospect of COVID-19 vaccines is promising, but it will still take a long time for this virus to disappear to the extent that racing can also make a full recovery.
- January 21-24: Rallye Monte-Carlo
- February 26-28: Arctic Rally Finland
- April 22-25: Rally Croatia
- May 20-23: Rally Portgual
- June 3-6: Rally Italy
- June 24-27: Safari Rally Kenya
- July 15-18: Rally Estonia
- July 29-August 1: Rally Finland
- August: Ypres Rally Belgium
- September 9-12: Rally Chile
- October 14-17: Rally Spain
- November 11-14: Rally Japan