The FIA World Rally Championship will stage its most northerly round ever this week when the Arctic Rally Finland hosts the series for the first time.
Taking the place of the cancelled Rally Sweden as the season’s only pure winter event, it promises perfect ice and snow conditions as well as stunning scenery. And while the weather is certain to be cold, the competition is likely to be as hot as ever.
Everything is set for incredible spectacle. So sit back and enjoy it with Red Bull TV, which will provide coverage on-demand throughout the weekend, beginning before the rally itself with the exclusive preview show: an exciting new addition for 2021.
Arctic Rally: Why you should watch
This will be the first time that the WRC has ventured inside the Arctic Circle, where temperatures can drop to below -30°C at this time of year. The location means a good coating of snow and ice on the stages is pretty much guaranteed: Welcome news after the milder weather experienced on Rally Sweden over recent years.
Snow and ice is usually a pretty slippery combination, but rally cars are equipped with special studded tyres that bite into the surface to provide near-unbelievable levels of grip. That, combined with flowing roads, should make the Arctic stages some of the fastest of the season.
While this is the WRC’s debut in the region, the Arctic Rally has been held every winter for more than 50 years. The list of former winners reads like a who’s who of Finnish rally history, featuring the likes of Hannu Mikkola, Ari Vatanen, Henri Toivonen, Timo Salonen, Tommi Mäkinen and Marcus Grönholm.
Until now though, the event has probably been better known for the fact that every Formula 1 racer to ever come from Finland has also taken part, including Keke Rosberg, Mika Häkkinen, Kimi Räikkönen and, most recently, Valtteri Bottas. Now the WRC’s elite will get to find out what kept them coming back year after year.
The rally is based in Rovaniemi: the capital of Lapland and most famous for being the home of Santa Claus (or Joulupukki as the Finns call him). A compact schedule will pack just over 250 competitive kilometres into 10 stages. Both Friday and Saturday’s action will conclude with stages held in darkness.
Sébastien Ogier leads the championship after his record-breaking eighth Rallye Monte-Carlo victory last month, but can expect tough competition from within his own Toyota team: Elfyn Evans won in Sweden last year, while Kalle Rovanperä is tipped by many to fight for his maiden WRC triumph on home ground after winning the Arctic Rally in 2020.
Hyundai and M-Sport will also fancy their chances with potentially better conditions further back in the road order, especially Ott Tänak and Teemu Suninen as they both look to bounce back from round-one retirements. But many eyes will be on 19-year-old Oliver Solberg – son of 2003 world champion Petter – as he makes his debut in a Hyundai World Rally Car.
Tune in with Red Bull TV – wherever you’re online
As on every other rally at the moment, spectators won’t be permitted at the side of the road on Arctic Rally Finland. But you can enjoy Red Bull TV’s coverage from the comfort of your own home – or wherever you are.
New to the Red Bull TV offering in 2021 is the exclusive rally preview show which debuted in Monte Carlo, available from Thursday evening with the latest insight from the teams and drivers in the service park ahead of the rally getting underway. Then, catch highlights of the action at the end of each day.
Every broadcast is available on demand to watch at any time, wherever you’re connected on redbull.tv or via the app.
Red Bull TV Broadcast Schedule: Arctic Rally Finland
Preview show: Thursday 25 February, 20:00 local time (19:00 CET)
Highlights show: Friday 26 February, 22:00 local time (21:00 CET)
Highlights show: Saturday 27 February, 22:00 local time (21:00 CET)
Highlights show: Sunday 28 February, 22:00 local time (21:00 CET)
Watch Red Bull TV on all your devices, wherever you’re connected