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Finland ups ante with over 100 entries.

The organisers of the Neste Oil Rally Finland have announced that they have received over 100 entries for their event, the ninth round in the World Rally Championship.

It means the 'Rally of the Thousand Lakes', as it was formerly known, is the most popular round to date this season, with Turkey the previous standard setter with 76.

In addition to the usual 'works' entries - such as Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen, Finnish championship competitors Matti Rantanen and Jukka Hiltunen will both compete in Ford Focus World Rally Cars, bringing the total number of runners in WRC machinery to 22.

The Jyvaskyla-based round also qualifies as an event in both the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship and the FIA Junior World Rally Championship - the only round in this year's WRC with dual status.

18 PWRC crews have nominated it, with Finnish series regulars Juho Hanninen and Jari Ketomaa set to be joined by 'wild cards' Juha Salo and Jussi Valimaki. Current PWRC championship leader, Andreas Aigner has not nominated Finland as one of his six points' scoring events.

In the JWRC meanwhile 17 crews will be chasing points, including the 'wild card' entry of previous series regular Kalle Pinomaki.

"There are no less than 31 nationalities on the entry list. It is great to note that our 'Gravel Grand Prix' still has the pulling power, both internationally and domestically," Clerk of the course Kai Tarkiainen told the events in official website.

"It's the first time Jyvaskyla will be hosting all three world championship series. This promises more tight battles and action than ever before. We're in for an incredibly tight battle.

"I will especially keep a keen eye on Matti Rantanen and Jukka Hiltunen in their WRC mounts and naturally the Finnish Group N drivers, too. It'll be interesting to see how Ketomaa and Hanninen fare at home and what kind of opposition the 'wild card' entries of Salo and Valimaki can offer them."

The provisional list of accepted entries is due to be published later on this week on Friday July 4.


Related Pictures

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Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) / Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN), BP Ford Focus RS WRC 07. Rally Finland, August 2-5 2007 [PIC CREDIT: Ford/worldralypics.com]
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