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The 2008 WRC is currently enjoying a six-week summer break, but Dani Sordo and Marc Martí are to interrupt their holidays to contest this weekend’s O.K. Auto-Rally, round five of the Finnish Championship.

The Spanish pair will drive a Citroën C4 WRC and will seek to profit from their visit to the land of saunas and small red houses alongside pretty lakes to enhance their grasp of the country's unique stages.

The World Rally Championship itself resumes on July 29 with the first day of recce for Rally Finland, the ninth fixture of this year's 15-round calendar.

"It's currently very close in both the Manufacturers or Drivers points tables and there's still absolutely everything to play for," states Citroen’s Olivier Quesnel. "To maximise our chances, we have decided to enable Dani Sordo to gain more experience of the Finnish stages."

The reputation of the latter is in no way exaggerated. The country's wide gravel roads tend to be extremely fast and their specific challenges include blind crests, concealed corners and the infamous yumps over which the cars get airborne. Experience of the event is crucial and it takes several visits to gain the sort of detailed understanding of the stages enjoyed by the local experts who know them intimately!

It's no coincidence that the home-grown stars' domination has traditionally been so difficult to overturn.

Dani Sordo and Marc Martí have shown real promise on each of their three visits to Rally Finland to date, first of all with the C2 Super 1600 in 2005, then with the Xsara WRC in 2006 and, finally, last year with the C4 WRC. The eight stages of the O.K. Auto Rally stand out as an ideal opportunity to boost their confidence further still prior to the 2008 event, since the roads around Kouvola and Kymenlaakso region are very similar to those of the WRC encounter.

"I am aware of how fortunate I am," says Dani Sordo. "I am very happy that Citroën has agreed to give me a chance to contest this event. The 92km of stages are very similar to those we will contest during Rally Finland, so it will be excellent practice.

“We have just completed our Rally Finland tests, and this outing will enable us to validate our final set-up in a competitive context. We will also see how our soft compound Pirelli tyres perform, because we have yet to use them in anger.

“The main aim of this event is to enhance our experience of this challenging terrain and help our build-up to the WRC event itself at the beginning of August,” Sordo added.

Event notes: 2008 O.K. AUTO-RALLI

•    29th O.K. Auto-Rally (July 11-12), round five (of seven) of the Finnish Rally Championship.

•    Surface: gravel.

•    Base: Kouvola, 180km southeast of Jyväskylä and 140km northeast of Helsinki.

•    Practical information: the local currency is the Euro. The time difference with Continental Europe is one hour. When it is 8am in Paris, it is 9am in Kouvola. Rally HQ and the press office are located in the Sokos Hotel Vaakuna, Kouvola. The service park uses the Kuusankoski baseball field, 10km from Kouvola.

•    Recce: Friday July 11 (9.00am until 7.00pm). Two runs authorised at a top speed of 80kph (except built up areas).

•    Shakedown: Friday July 11 (6.00pm until 10.00pm) using an 11km stage situated 30km from Kouvola.

•    Scrutineering: Friday July 11 (6.00pm until 9.00pm) and Saturday July 12 (8.01am until 9.01am).

•    Start ceremony: Saturday July 12 (from 10.01am), Kouvola town centre.

•    Route: the total distance is 274km divided into eight stages totalling 92km.

•    Day 1 (Saturday July 12): 274km including 92km divided into eight stages (six different). Rally starts from Kouvola town centre at 10.01. SS1 (Dolicap Oy 1), SS2 (Vaihtonuao.net) and SS3 (Toyota). Regroup, then service from 12.06 (first car). SS4 (Anjalankosken Terästyö), SS5 (Luumäen) and SS6 (Scandia Tent). Regroup, then service from 15.33 (first car). SS7 (Dolicap Oy 2) and SS8 (Dolicap 3). Finish: from 17.17.

•    Podium ceremony: Saturday July 12 (from 5.17pm), Kouvola town centre. Prize-giving: Sokos Hotel Vaakuna, Kouvola

•    New: SS3 features 60% asphalt.

Dani Sordo/Marc Martí are contesting this event for the second time. They retired in 2007 with their Citroën C4 WRC.

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