ESTONIA SEES PENULTIMATE ROUND OF 2022 JUNIOR WRC CHAMPIONSHIP | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

ESTONIA SEES PENULTIMATE ROUND OF 2022 JUNIOR WRC CHAMPIONSHIP

13.07.22

The 2022 FIA Junior WRC Championship is set to compete on the flat-out and unforgiving stages of Rally Estonia with a thrilling championship fight on its hands. 

Rally Estonia made its debut on the Junior WRC calendar in 2020 and the championship is returning to the fan-favourite event for a third year in a row. 
 
The Estonian stages have proven a huge hit with crews, teams and fans with an electric atmosphere and breath-taking demonstrations of talent and skill by the crews. It is the home event for Robert Virves who made his explosive debut in the championship in 2020 leading for ten stages and eventually finished third. It is also a venue filled with fond memories for 2021 champion, Sami Pajari, who claimed his maiden Junior WRC victory in Estonia in 2021.
 
So far in 2022, Junior WRC has seen three different winners in as many rounds with some incredible performances throughout. Heading to Estonia, the championship is searching for a fourth a different winner, with Robert Virves a firm favourite after finding his form in Fiesta Rally3 machinery this year. Virves will start the event with a new co-driver, Julia Thulin, and will adopt English-language pace notes. All but one of this year’s Junior WRC crews head to Estonia with prior knowledge of the event as McRae Kimathi, fresh from a WRC3 podium on Safari Rally Kenya, will take to Estonian roads for the first time in his career.
 
For Rally Estonia crews have to choose from 22 Pirelli Scorpion K6 (soft) tyres and 6 Pirelli Scorpion K4 (hard tyres) with a maximum allocation of 22 tyres to be used on the rally including shakedown. Estonia has a wide variety of surfaces that will each favour one tyre compound over the other while stage length and conditions will also play a role in each crew’s tyre decision. Loop mileage combined with weather conditions will be the bigger influencer of tyre choice, with the longest loop of the rally coming on Friday at almost 70km. Friday’s stages will see the two longest stages of the rally as well, with Peipisääre (24.35km) and Mustvee (17.09km) running back-to-back. While most crews will converge on a similar tyre strategy, expect one or two crews to roll the dice and try something different in a bid to gain additional Wolf Stage Win Points.
 
In the championship, Jon Armstrong leads the way with 67 points over Lauri Joona in second but just one point behind. Reigning champion Pajari is third but only 11 points down. Rally Estonia presents the last opportunity for this year’s crews to post a regular classification points score with double points on offer for the final round of the season. Because crews will drop their worst classification score at the end of the season, the pressure is on the likes of Pajari and Virves for Rally Estonia: with Pajari having a no-score to his name in Croatia and Virves only managing eight points on Rally Sweden. 
 
Maciej Woda, FIA Junior WRC Championship Manager, said:
“Rally Estonia is always an entertaining event for Junior WRC which everybody is always excited about, the organisers here know how to put on a show. This rally has a really good variety of challenges from high-speed fast gravel to soft and rough sandy sections that you need to pay particular attention too. The jumps here in Estonia are also spectacular, but just like every jump, the best airtime doesn’t necessarily mean the fastest car. Rally Estonia presents this year’s crews the best opportunity to earn Wolf Stage Win Points as the rally is made up of 24 stages – that is close to the same amount of points for an event win!
 
“Like every round so far, it is totally wide open, we have three drivers who have already proved they can win this year, while another three have shown they have what it takes to get on the podium in the WRC3 category. We will see a variety of strategies play out here in Estonia, for both Wolf Stage Win Points and an overall result, let’s see what happens!”
 
#41 Jon Armstrong / Brian Hoy
“It’s a good rally, very fast high-speed roads and a big challenge to get it right. You need a lot of commitment to be at the top of the leaderboard here in Estonia but also careful not to push too hard. Last year I felt quite good, but this year it’s hard to know how it’s going to go, I think until I get to shakedown and onto the first stage I don’t really know where the pace is going to be at. We will try our best and hope we will at least get a podium.”
 
#43 Lauri Joona / Mikael Korhonen
“Estonian roads look good and there are many big jumps which is something I enjoy. I think it’s win or lose in this rally in terms of pace, you have to be pushing for stage win points and drive as fast as you can.”
 
#45 Sami Pajari / Enni Malkonen
“I am looking forward to the weekend, there has been a bit of a break from the past rallies for me so it’s nice to get back. I think Estonia is one of the nicest rallies of the season, it’s fast and flowing stages with lots of jumps which gives a nice feeling. It’s not exactly what I am used to in Finland, but it is a really enjoyable rally. I have mixed feelings for my approach, the championship will only be clear once we are going to Greece, we need to get some points. It’s good if you can win but at the moment, I don’t have a plan or what to aim for. I will try to go at the speed I am comfortable with and then we will see.”
 
#46 Robert Virves / Julia Thulin 
“I am looking forward to a good result here in Estonia, it is a place where you cannot be too slow, everybody is going to be really fast. It is definitely not the easiest job to be fast on this rally, we will have to see how we will manage it. We will try to be flat out as it would be great to win on my home event. I am now using English pace notes, I first used them on Rally Poland with a new co-driver and it went well so hopefully we can continue like this on my home rally.”
 
#47 William Creighton / Liam Regan
“Hopefully we’ll not see too much water during the rally, the aim for the rally is to try and finished as high up the leader board as we can. We struggled a bit with the pace here last year but we are going into the weekend relaxed, trying to enjoy it and see what we can do.”
 
#49 McRae Kimathi / Mwangi Kioni
“It’s going to be a difficult rally, very fast I know so it will be fun! My approach for the rally will be quite simply to finish the event without any major accidents and to build as much experience as I can. The roads here are pretty fast so the major challenge for me will be to learn what is needed to be competitive on them.”