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JWRC: Honda JAS Motorsport Rally Finland preview

Guy Wilks and the Honda Civic Type R R3 will take on the fastest and most spectacular rally in the world next weekend, when they start Rally Finland, formerly known as the 'Rally of the Thousand Lakes'.

Finland, the birthplace of more
World Rally Champions than any other country, is well known as the spiritual home of rallying. The event is always closely contested, and it is estimated that a fifth of the country's five million population turns out to watch it.

The weekend before the rally, Wilks and Italian team JAS Motorsport, which builds and runs the Honda Civic Type R R3, completed a successful test on a variety of different roads in Finland, racking up 300 kilometres with no problems at all.

"It was a busy schedule but we did a lot of useful set-up work and underlined the basic reliability of the car," said Wilks, who led his class commandingly during both his previous outings with the Civic, in Australia and Russia. "I think the nature of the roads should suit the car very well and we're aiming for a solid finish with a good result as well. The Mugen prepared Honda engine in particular is extremely strong, which is absolutely vital on a quick rally like this one."

The Englishman counts the Finnish rally as one of his favourite events, having claimed his first podium in the Junior World Rally Championship on the fast roads around the rally's base in Jyvaskyla. Last year, he only just missed out on scoring World Championship points in Finland, and he won the Junior Championship class there in 2006.

"I definitely feel an affinity with the roads," added the 27 year-old. "Maybe it comes from my background of riding motocross bikes. Of course the speeds are much slower, but you do get an idea of how to jump the bike and the correct lines to take. I've got a good bit of experience of Finland now, having contested it five times previously, so I think we've got every right to be optimistic."

Wilks and Moynihan will be aiming to repeat the success enjoyed by many Civic Type R R3 customers all over the world. During the last few months Marcel Piepers has claimed several class wins in Holland, as has also been the case for Levai Ferenc in Hungary. Danish driver Martin Knudsen has just joined the winners' circle in France, and another class win has been racked up by Rajoel Mamisoa in Reunion Island, to name but a few.

JAS Motorsport Team Principal Alessandro Mariani commented: "As has been seen in several national championships the Civic Type R R3 has proven to be reliable and competitive. Our customers are very happy with their performances and successes. With Guy we've had a little bit of bad luck this year and so the whole team has been working very hard for improving the reliability and we've got through a very intense test program in order to be ready for the such difficult challenge in Finland."

The Rally Finland gets underway with a superspecial stage at Killeri on Thursday night (31 July) at 19:45. The crews will contest a total of 24 special stages, making up 340.42 competitive kilometres, before the finish back in Jyvaskyla at 13:30 on Sunday 3 August.

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