MotoGP: back to Finland, at last!
According to the yet to be confirmed calendar of MotoGP 2020, the paddock will fly back to Finland to race on the KymiRing circuit after 39 long years.
The romance between the Scandinavian country and engines is a long-lasting affair. The home country of the unforgotten Jarno Sarineen and Taru Rinne, the first woman ever to win points in the World Motor Championship, has always shown a great interest in both two- and four-wheelers (in addition to snowmobiles). In the World Motor Championship Finland is still duly represented by Mika Kallio, the newly promoted KTM rider after the Zarco era, Niki Tuuli, and AJo Motorsport, one of the most professional and competitive teams of the entire paddock.
If this is not enough, the nation having a population of a little more than 5.5 million people is the birthplace of a very high number of F1 and rally champions. Some well-known Finnish winners of the F1 World Championship include Mika Hakkinen, Keke Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen. And the list continues with Bottas and Kovalainen who won Grand Prix races in the major series of open wheelers. If we look at rally racing, the scenario becomes far more interesting. The list of world champions is very long: Markku Alén, Ari Vatanen, Hannu Mikkola, Timo Salonen, Juha Kankkunen, Tommi Mäkinen, and Marcus Grönholm.
Any doubt, now, that a Grand Prix in Finland is the icing on the cake? Riders will compete in a place where passion is strong and deeply-rooted.
Italy: a leading role in the history of this competition
Our national riders have always asserted themselves in Finland: Agostini won up to sixteen times in the two classes of the Imatra circuit, 350 and 500; Walter Villa won four times and Pier Paolo Bianchi two. An Italian rider, Marco Lucchinelli, was the winner of the now far in time competition raced in 1981 in Imatra, in the 500 class. Hopefully, this tradition will be restarted with yet another victory of an Italian rider.
Lucchinelli, Pat Hennen, Johnny Cecotto, Phil Read are some of the names of the winners of the Grand Prix in Finland which used to be raced on an iconic road circuit, a hard track that was up to the mastery of the most talented riders only.
The level crossing
The historical circuit in Imatra is still in the hearts of all MotoGP lovers. Any fan over 50 can still remember the very popular image of the riders crossing the railway tracks, which I am posting in this blog for youngsters mainly and to remember Luciano Bindini, the gentleman with a hat in the background of the picture. This man gave a very significant contribution to the history of racing as he was constantly and actively involved in the setup and decoration of the racing tracks with the colours of the sponsors, a man I feel happy to thank for his courtesy and the professionalism he showed when we had the chance to work together in past times.
Imatra has meant and still means so much for MotoGP lovers that the name of the circuit was used a few years ago to launch a new brand whose testimonial was Valentino Rossi.
At the KymiRing now
Year 2020 will mark the move to the brand new racing track of the KymiRing, located close to the town of Kouvola, approx. 130 km away from Helsinki, the Finnish capital city. Nostalgics who wish to go and visit the old racing track in Imatra – which is still in operation, by the way, and is located 130 km north east of Kouvola – will only take a one and a half hour trip from the new circuit.
In summer this year, in preparation for Finland’s return to the MotoGP, test riders from the official teams had the chance to test the still under-construction KymiRing circuit. The rainfall on 18 and 19 August did not stop Michele Pirro (Ducati), Bradley Smith (Aprilia), Jonas Folger (Yamaha), Stefan Bradl (Honda), Mika Kallio (KTM) and Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki) from taking to the new track and sampling it. The first reactions were not totally positive because of the layout of the track. Below are some statements made by the riders and collected after the end of day one.
Kallio, the home rider and first to take to the track, feels that the circuit is too slow in some places and it is “not ideal” for MotoGP.
“If I need to say something now, I believe there are some corners that we need to change,” said Kallio. “Basically we need to have some kind of gap between the corners. Now the bike is turning to the left or right all the time, and that’s not ideal for MotoGP. So we need a little bit longer straights between the corners.”
Bradley Smith labelled the KymiRing “very different to anything we’ve seen before” and he stressed the “technical challenge” connected to the layout of the track. “There are a lot of off-camber corners here which makes it difficult for the riders, it’s a technical challenge. It’s quite tight and twisty and a little bit slow in places, but we also have places like Silverstone where it’s flat out everywhere. Sometimes it’s good to have a complete different end of the spectrum. Also, we have three different categories [MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3]. It’s not just for MotoGP and I think those smaller bikes will really fit this race track.”
According to Michele Pirro “the track is too slow and not spectacular enough” and Syvain Guintoli concluded that the KymiRing is a track the riders “will grow to love” over time.
As usual, I am pretty sure that at the end of the first FP1 of the 2020 race the leading riders will appreciate the track, while less competitive riders will not save it from harsh criticism.
Finland is a very interesting market for the sponsors of the World Motor Championship. Are you willing to play this game?
The race at the KymiRing is one in which businesses will have the occasion to sponsor MotoGP for one Grand Prix only. Finland also gives yet another interesting chance: to meet a passionate, competent audience with large economic resources. Please find attached the statistics relating to the average monthly earnings of 5.5 million Finnish people. Make a comparison with the average wages in Europe and you will see that this is a tantalizing occasion. If this is not enough, data referred to 2019 is even more promising.
Needless to say, if you are interested in sponsoring the Finnish event of the World Motor Championship, whether it is with a team or the organiser, do not hesitate to contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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