The World Rally
Championship has concluded a five-year deal with the organisers of the Neste Oil Rally Finland, it was confirmed today.
The new agreement means that one of the championship's most prestigious events will be guaranteed a place on the WRC calendar until at least 2014.
It is the first multi-year agreement made by the ISC, the worldwide media and commercial rights holder for the WRC and it comes on the eve of this year's 'Finnish Grand Prix', which kicks off tonight.
"We are delighted to have agreed this extended relationship with the WRC," said Jarmo Mahonen, general manager of Neste Oil Rally Finland. "Rallying is integral to all Finnish motorsport fans and we have produced many heroes of the sport in the past, which we wish to continue to do in the future.
"Having an ongoing relationship with the WRC will help us plan and deliver bigger and better events year on year for both the hundreds of thousands of fans here in Finland, and the millions more watching worldwide."
Over the years the '1000 Lakes' has become one of the benchmarks for WRC events worldwide, with hundreds of thousands of spectators on the stages, and the ISC hopes that a long term deal will enable the event to become even stronger and more successful.
"There is no doubt that Rally Finland represents the very best of the WRC - but we want to give them the opportunity to grow still further and in turn encourage other events to aspire to their extraordinarily high quality levels," confirmed Neil Duncanson, ISC chairman.
"The WRC is all about the world's greatest drivers tackling the most challenging and different terrains, and Rally Finland epitomises this ethos," added Simon Long, ISC's CEO.
"It is testament to Rally Finland that each year they excel themselves in their organisation of the event, and it is due to this that we are excited and in a position to agree this extended partnership."
Meanwhile the ISC has confirmed that it intends to sign a number of the WRC's major events to long term deals in the coming months as it seeks to 'strengthen the championship' and 'help make it more attractive for fans, competitors, sponsors'.