|Location: Märjamaa, Estonia
|Local time: Thursday, 9:30pm
So the boys' trip to Finland has been and gone, and I got to see my first WRC in person, rather than on TV. I must say though that you see far more on television. As with any sport these days I guess.
The student city of Jyvaskylä (300km north-west of Helsinki) has a population of around 90,000 - but over the three days the rally took place, another 200-300,000 people flooded the city. This made it pretty tough finding a good spot beside the road to watch the cars fly by. People everywhere. But everybody was in a great mood (helped along by copious amounts of alcohol) and there were national flags aplenty.
The Finnish driver Marcus Gronholm flies past in his Peugeot 307 WRC car. Coming second in the championships overall, he went on to win the rally of Finland. He knows those roads better than he knows his own wife.
The Finns were out in force... but seemed to be outnumbered by the very patriotic Estonians...
The sea of flags at the super stage event (racing head-to-head around a special track) on Thursday night.
More Estonian flags than Finnish ones. The atmosphere was great, and rather deafening thanks to
the air horns and trumpets.
The infamous kollane maja ("yellow house") jump - named after the house that sits beside this, the largest jump
of the rally. Not a great photo, but the masses of people around here made it extremely difficult to get a clear shot.
I chose this photo to demonstrate some of the rather rough landings the cars made.
Gronholm's co-driver was so winded on the landing that he couldn't read the pacenotes any more, just gasp and groan.
He required medical attention after the stage, resulting in his being strapped-up and padded for the rest of the rally,
as did several other co-drivers. I later found out that one actually broke his back here. The drivers were always okay.
Estonian WRC driver Markko Martin holds the distance record at the yellow house, hitting the jump at 171kph
and sailing 57m through the air. Impressive.
Our camping ground, 300m down from the yellow house jump. This site was one of hundreds dotted along the roads.
Tents and campervans everywhere, and again an extremely jovial, drunken, good-time atmosphere!
(The guy standing on top of the van on the left appears in the photo below)
The morning after. Enough vodka and you can just about sleep anywhere.
The local Finnish beer brand took a rather targeted approach
to marketing their product during the event.
These guys seemed to just love to get in front of my shots. I wish I had a press pass too!
The Frenchman Sebastian Loeb drives his Citroen to second place.
This guy is a record-breaker and has been almost unstoppable throughout the WRC '05.
We stopped in the city of Lahti (home to the 2001 Winter Olympics) on our way back to Helsinki.
The highest ski jump is 116m.
The sun sets over the Cathedral in Senate Square, Helsinki.
A happy drunken Estonian reveller, taken while we waited in line to
drive our car onto the high-speed ferry back to Estonia.
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