Entries have closed for the Finnish round of FIA World Rally Championship. Neste Oil Rally Finland, which takes place at the end of July, has attracted no fewer than 124 crews. That is the highest number yet seen on a WRC round this year.

Topping the entry are 21 crews with World Rally Car equipment. The list comprises a record number of four-wheel-drive cars, 79 altogether. Heartening is also the high number of cars conforming to the recently launched R2 category. 31 of these are entered for Finland. Also among the participants are 16 crews competing in the WRC Academy classification for up-and-coming talents. Lahti Racegirl (McKlein)Historic Rally, which is run concurrently with Neste Oil Rally Finland received 86 entries.

Nine of the 12 registered WRC teams are to tackle Neste Oil Rally Finland. Citroen duo Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier will naturally be seen in Central Finland, as will Ford´s winners for the past two years, Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala. Domestic colour will also be supplied by Kimi Räikkönen, who drives under his own Ice 1 Racing banner.

Particular interest this year will be focused on teams new to the world series. Mini of course made their debut in Sardinia and will now make a second appearance in Finland. Volkswagen, who announced their future WRC programme in the spring, will also be starting their preparation with an entry of two S2000 class Skodas. These will be driven by Finnish future prospect Joonas Lindroos, reigning national champion in the 2-wheel-drive category, and Norway´s Andreas Mikkelsen, a member of the FIA Young Driver Academy programme.

Several interesting names are to be found in the classes. Perhaps one of the most eagerly anticipated battles will be in the SWRC category between its leading lights Juho Hänninen and Ott Tänak. In the production class main protagonists include Jari Ketomäki, Jarkko Nikara, Hayden Paddon and Patrick Flodin.

FIA regulations give the host nation a chance to award wild card entries for its licence holders. This time these go to Joonas Lindroos and Juha Salo in S2000, while in the production class the recipients are Riku Tahko and Mikko Pajunen, the latter a member of the Finnish Federation´s own Driver Academy. 
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