Belfast Telegraph

Billy on the box: Frantic fast and filthy fun with a Finn

By Billy Weir

Rallying is something I've never been sure of. I remember when I was growing up in the leafy suburbs of Ballymena that the Ulster Rally would venture into the slurry-strewn roads with a never-ending line of Mk II Ford Escorts careering into a hen house that conveniently sat on the course.

They do things differently in Finland.

BT Sport had the final stage of Rally Finland on live on Sunday and it was tense stuff as local favourite Jari-Matti Latvala lined up in Jyväskylä for the stage through the forests of Ruuhimäki. There may be no hen house to contend with but an awful lot of dots over vowels to tackle.

Commentator Jon Desborough, not to be confused with the soldier and politician of the almost same name who supported the parliamentary cause during the English Civil War (who said that History degree was pointless?), was our guide.

"If you go down to the woods today you're in for a big surprise," he promised.

"Fans are here in their thousands, it's like Glastonbury in the forest, only it's better," as Garth Brooks turned up in an Audi Quattro, but was turned away.

"It's better than that roller coaster you were on for your summer holiday, I can guarantee you," before introducing his co-commentator, local favourite, Esapekka Lappi, or EP as he quickly became known.

It was fast, furious and filthy fun, as the cars hurtled around and then hit several 'yumps', although this led to a diplomatic incident, with EP saying this was a Swedish thing, as jumps in Finland were known as a 'hupu' and a crest was a 'nupu'. There are probably dots missing there.

And after 300-odd miles, in the end, Jari flew over the hupus and nupus to ensure they'd be dancing in the streets of Jyväskylä tonight, with 3.6 seconds to spare over Sebastien Ogier. He was last seen in a hen house outside Gracehill, dots optional.

Belfast Telegraph


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