Ogier, Latvala take on Alen, Kankkunen and Co in Neste Oil Rally Helsinki Battle

Warm-up for the Rally Finland – Rally legends go head to head with today’s starsSébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala line up as first and second in the WRCA winner in a winning car: Markku Alén drives the Volkswagen Polo R WRC

Rally legends challenge the stars of the WRC: the Saturday before the start of the Rally Finland (26th July) sees Volkswagen works drivers Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala take on no less than Finnish rally icons Tommi Mäkinen, Markku Alén, Marcus Grönholm and Juha Kankkunen. Among the cars in action when the past meets the present will be the Volkswagen Polo R WRC. The head to head will take place on a specially erected sprint circuit on the waterfront in the district of Hietalahti, in the Finnish capital Helsinki. The spectacular duels are set to mark the 20th anniversary of the partnership between the Rally Finland and title sponsor Neste.

“We are really looking forward to the Helsinki Battle. Staging a spectacular event in such a great city is a fantastic way of promoting the Rally Finland,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. “How often have rally fans wondered how true rally legends like Markku Alén, Juha Kankkunen and Co. would get on in today’s World Rally Cars? This fascinating question will be answered in Helsinki, and our two Volkswagen works drivers cannot wait for the race-off between the stars of today and the legends. Anyone who has the opportunity to watch this spectacular battle in Helsinki should do their utmost to be there. In few places do you get a chance like this to get so close to drivers past and present, and the World Rally Cars.”

The circuit for the “Helsinki Battle” is just 1.65 kilometres in length, but littered with challenges. Short full-throttle sections alternate with technically demanding corners and cobblestones, not to mention the jumps created specifically for the event, and a spectacular 360-degree turnabout. Ogier and Latvala will be joined at the start by Mads Østberg (Citroën), Mikko Hirvonen (M-Sport Ford), Thierry Neuville and Juho Hänninen (both Hyundai). The grandstands offer excellent views over virtually the entire circuit. Admission is free, and over 20,000 spectators are expected to flock to the spectacle.

“It will be great to race against the all-stars of the rallying scene,” said Jari-Matti Latvala. “I am sure we will put on a great show for the fans. There can be few better ways to warm up for the Rally Finland.” After a warm-up, Helsinki resident Latvala, team-mate Ogier and the rally legends will take to the track individually for qualifying. The best of the present-day drivers and the top rally legend will qualify for the final, which, like qualifying, will be held over two laps, with each driver having two attempts.

“Helsinki Battle” – Itinerary

Saturday, 26th July 2014 Helsinki Battle, free practice/warm-ups, 12:45 Helsinki Battle, qualifying for rally legends, 15:00Helsinki Battle, qualifying for rally stars, 16:00Helsinki Battle, final, 17:00

“Helsinki Battle” – Rally legends

Markku Alén (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) World title: 1978*Wins: 19Points: 840Teams: Lancia, Fiat, Subaru, Toyota

Tommi Mäkinen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) WRC titles: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999Siege: 24Points: 544Teams: Mitsubishi, Subaru

Marcus Grönholm (Hyundai i20 WRC) WRC titles: 2000, 2002Wins: 30Points: 615Teams: Peugeot, Ford, Toyota

Juha Kankkunen (Citroën DS3 WRC) WRC titles: 1986, 1987, 1991, 1993Wins: 23Points: 1,124Teams: Toyota, Lancia, Subaru, Ford, Peugeot, Hyundai

* Alén won the 1978 “FIA Cup for Drivers”, the predecessor to the FIA World Drivers’ Championship (WRC), which was only introduced in 1979.