Above Image: In 2018, The Kymi Ring is scheduled to host Finland’s first Motorcycle Grand Prix since 1982.
Image Source: gpxtra.com
For countless years, there has been discussion as to why Finland hasn’t hosted a Formula One race, with the odd rumour being spread around from time to time. The country has produced three Formula One world champions over the years in Keke Rosberg (1982), Mika Hӓkkinen (1998-99) and Kimi Rӓikkӧnen (2007), in addition to race winners Heikki Kovalainen, and more recently, Valtteri Bottas.
The case has usually been that the Scandinavian’s haven’t had a suitable venue available for such an event. Next year though, the Kymi Ring, located 150km North-East of the capital city of Helsinki in the Kouvola region of the country will be hosting the Finnish Grand Prix, albeit in MotoGP. At first, it seems odd given Finland’s association with four wheels thanks to their multiple world champions in Formula One and the World Rally Championship.
However, they do have strong in links with motorcycle racing’s premier class. In addition to rider Niklas ‘Niki’ Ajo currently competing in Moto3, Finland strongest link comes in the form of the Ajo Motorsport team. Run by Aki Ajo, the team currently fields riders in each category, using the Red Bull KTM name in the MotoGP class, as well as Ajo managing the careers of current MotoGP riders Maverick Viñales and Jack Miller, both of whom claimed their debut wins last season. It’s no wonder why he touted as the most influential Finn in the paddock.
MotoGP has been the primary focus of the circuit’s organizers and for the foreseeable future, Formula One isn’t a viable option due to the high hosting fee involved. Speaking to Italian website Omnicourse, Kari O. Sohlberg from Finland’s national governing body for motorsport stated that despite this, he is open to other four-wheel series competing in the country.
“The track will certainly be approved for Formula 1, but a Grand Prix has never been in the plans. An F1 race is not a realistic goal, because the amount of money required every year is so great that it would not be possible to pay for the rights. This kind of money cannot be found today in Finland. Instead, MotoGP and Superbikes, and series such as GP2, GP3 and DTM fit perfectly with our plans.” The Kymi Ring currently holds a Grade A license with the FIM, but only Grade 2 rating with the FIA for four-wheel events, meaning it’ll need a Grade 1 upgrade before being considered for Formula One.
Finland has previously been hosted motorcycle Grand Prix at two venues, originally held on the Tampere street circuit in 1962 and 1963, before moving to Imatra the following year hosting the race until 1982 across two circuit configurations. The inclusion of the Finnish race is part of MotoGP’s current ‘expansion’ program, with Chile, Thailand and Indonesia announcing plans to join the calendar soon alongside the recent inclusions of Argentina and Austria.