In Finland, you’ll find loads of hippies. But it’s nothing to do with flower power as a ‘hyppy’ in Finnish means a big jump.
That’s why there are more ‘hyppys’ on Rally Finland than there are at Woodstock. Hippies, of course, like nothing better than getting high - and so do rally drivers. But they tend to use cars rather than mind-bending substances. Earlier today we looked a little bit at the staggering numbers involved in catching some air.
Now we answer the question that everyone wants to know: just how do you do it? Rally drivers divide themselves into two camps when it comes to jumping: long and low, or short and high.
Time spent travelling vertically is time wasted so long and low tends to be the preferred option. On the other hand, the longer you spend in the air, the less time you spend doing other important things like braking and steering – so some drivers don’t mind going a bit higher, as long as they land sooner.
Whichever option you choose, it’s going to be spectacular: there’s no getting round the law of physics which dictates that potential energy has to become kinetic energy somehow.
Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala, currently chasing the two Red Bull Citroen drivers for the lead of Rally Finland, grew up with these roads, and tells us exactly how to do it. “When you approach a big jump at 180kph it’s essential to kill the speed before take-off,” he explains. “If the speed is too high, the aerodynamics will force the back of the car down and the front, which is lighter, will rise. The tactic is to brake, perhaps drop a gear, and accelerate full throttle over the jump. Braking over the jump itself means the suspension isn’t free and the landing could be bad.”
As Mikko Hirvonen – second for Citroen behind Sebastien Loeb – points out, what goes up must come down. “A bit like flying a plane, the landing is just as important as the take-off,” he explains. “The key thing is to try to land the car as square as possible, with the wheels pointing straight. If you don’t do that, one side will dig in and you’re probably going to have a big accident, as I’ve found out the hard way before.”
So there you have it. That’s how you make a rally car fly through the air in Finland – according to two of the country’s most famous experts. You don’t even need Red Bull to give you wings…