The organisers of the Neste Oil Rally Finland have confirmed that the legendary Ouninpohja stage will not be included as part of the route for this year event.
The 33.01 kilometre test was restored to its original length last season having been split into two in 2006 and in 2005 due to concerns over safety.
Although three chicanes were added to try and keep speeds in check, it appears they didn't work well enough and it has been deemed to quick for 2008, when the itinerary will feature some 'big changes', with around 50 per cent different to last year's edition.
"The route can not be published in more detail as of yet - not before all the permits are in order. However, we already know that the most demanding stage in the world, Ouninpohja, will not be driven in 2008," Jarmo Mahonen, the managing director of the rally organiser AKK Sports Ltd told the events official website.
"The matter was discussed with the FIA
already last year, and at the time we were able to keep Ouninpohja as a part of our route. This year we have to leave it out for safety reasons."
Despite the loss of Ouinpohja however, the organisers are pleased that the Rally Finland will be the only event in this year's WRC which will count towards both support categories - namely the FIA
Junior World Rally
Championship and the FIA
Production Car World Rally
Indeed Mahonen reckons that this is a big boost. "We are happy that Finland is included in all three calendars - and our event is the only one this season [with that honour]. A single WRC round cannot get more exciting and interesting than this. We can offer the Finnish fans more rally action than ever before," he continued.
"Naturally, this had an immediate effect on the Neste Oil Rally Finland route 'jigsaw puzzle'. This year the durability of the roads is a main factor that needs to be taken into consideration when planning the route."
The service park meanwhile will be again based at the Jyvaskyla Paviljonki - and all the services during the rally will take place there. The number of stages is also expected to be roughly the same.
The schedule for the Neste Oil Rally Finland, which will run from August 1-3, is due to be confirmed in March.