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Desire for World Class Rallying

The foundations of Neste Rally Finland were laid in the summer of 1951, after a competition called the Hanko Run in the seaside resort Hanko, southern Finland.

The number of Finnish crews willing to tackle Rallye Monte Carlo in the 50s was greater than the countrys allocation of entries. The Hanko Run used to be viewed as a qualifying event of sorts, with the best finishers getting acceptance for their Monte entry.

The regulations of Hanko Run did not always find favour with the competitors. They differed notably from those of Rallye Monte Carlo. The competitors were complaining that the basis for selection of Monte Carlo entries was not valid, as no Monte-type competition existed in the country.

At a dinner after the Hanko Run in 1951 a group of seasoned Monte Carlo competitors sat together discussing about how important it was to have a relevant qualifying system for Finnish entries to Rallye Monte Carlo.

They decided at the proposal of Pentti Barck to organise an annual competition in Jyväskylä, which to quite some extent - including its regulations - would be a copy of Monte. The first rally would be held that same year in September. The decision was made in July.

To canvass a prize fund of 100 000 Finnmarks, it was suggested each participant of the meeting would chip in 10 000. This raised 80 000 and the balance was donated by the first sponsor - Hotel Jyväshovi of Jyväskylä.

The first organiser was the Central Finland district organisation of Finlands Automobile Club. Rally was named Jyväskylän Suurajot, in english Jyväskylä Grand Prix. The regulations were largely based on those of Rallye Monte Carlo. The rally was 1 666 kilometres in length with two special stages.

A total of 26 competitors started the rally, 3 of which retired. The route took the participants all the way up to the Arctic Circle and back. The first special stage was a 1400-metre hillclimb in Puijo, Kuopio and the other one was an acceleration and braking test in Harju, Jyväskylä. The declared winners of the first rally were Arvo Carlsson - Vilho Mattila. The seeds had been sewn for a Finnish legend.