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Police Detain 9 Climate Activists, Warn of Heavy Traffic During Rally Finland in Jyväskylä

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The Central Finland Police Department warned motorists to expect traffic jams on Sunday, the last day of the FIA Rally Finland in Jyväskylä, south-central Finland.

Authorities predicted congestion on Highway 9 around Jämsä and Himos, particularly the route from Jämsä via Padasjoki towards Lahti, as well as intermittently around Jyväskylä and Tampere.

Police urged motorists to be prepared for long traffic backups after the World Rally Championship (WRC) event. In a statement on Sunday, they pointed out that overtaking other vehicles causes unnecessary dangerous situations and does not speed up one’s own journey.

Elokapina protestors taken into custody

Last year, protesters from Elokapina, the Finnish branch of the climate NGO Extinction Rebellion, held a demonstration during Rally Finland which police broke up by firing water cannons. This year police apparently acted in advance to avoid any disruptions of the race.

Late Friday, police said they had detained nine people suspected of trying to disrupt the Jyväskylä rally in a service area. Elokapina activist Kaapo Riikonen confirmed to Yle that the nine people taken into custody were Elokapina activists.

Police said they found “substances suitable for damaging rally cars and their drivers” in the possession of those taken into custody.

According to Riikonen, the substance was a harmless, water-soluble dye, and the intention was not to cause damage.

Police had already detained Elokapina activists on Thursday after they blocked a crowded street for an hour with a demonstration against the rally event.

A rock band playing on a sidewalk while a few men stand watching from a distance.
A band played on a Jyväskylä street during an Elokapina event on Saturday. Image: Jaana Polamo / Yle

In a statement, Elokapina described the WRC event as a showcase for the auto industry, which is aimed at encouraging the purchase and use of private cars and which increases overconsumption.

It condemned “using up natural resources for unnecessary fun in the middle of a climate emergency”.

Rovanperä flips car but still leads overall championship

Rally racers competed in four special stages on Sunday between Jämsä and Jyväskylä. The reigning world champion, Finland’s Kalle Rovanperä, entered the race with a 55-point lead in the overall season championship, and was the overwhelming favourite to win the home rally. However, a mistake while leading the race on Friday saw him roll his Toyota on its roof. He was unable to return to action on Saturday.

Rovanperä’s Toyota teammate, Welsh driver Elfyn Evans, went on to win on Sunday. However, Rovanperä retained his overall lead in the standings.

Belgium’s Thierry Neuville of Hyundai was second, with Toyota driver Takamoto Katsuta of Japan third ahead of Finland’s Teemu Suninen. Another Finnish Hyundai driver, Esapekka Lappi, also crashed out on Friday.

Rovanperä, a 22-year-old Jyväskylä native, is the son of former WRC driver Harri Rovanperä. The younger Rovanperä has won seven WRC events since debuting in 2017. Last October he became the youngest driver – by far – ever to win the WRC championship, and the first Finnish World Rally Champion since Marcus Grönholm two decades earlier.

Source: Yle

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