After becoming the first non-Finn to win the prestigious Finnish Rally Championship, and taking two wins in this year's WRC2 championship – the feeder series to the main World Rally Championship – rising Estonian star Karl Kruuda is aiming to end his season on a high with a strong result on Rally GB this weekend.
Up until the penultimate round in Spain, the 21-year-old was in with a chance of lifting the WRC2 title. However, a small mistake during the recce led to big consequences in the rally: an accident cost Karl more than 20 minutes, and with it the chance of taking the crown. However, he's determined to end the season with another victory aboard his distinctively liveried PrintSport Ford Fiesta Super 2000, which has taken the fight to the more powerful R5 cars at the head of the field. And this should be enough to secure him a position in the final top three of the championship, depending of course on how everybody else scores.
“Rally GB is one of those classic events with really good stages,” said Kruuda, who has taken his two WRC2 victories this year in Sweden and Finland. “It's definitely one of the most demanding and complex gravel rallies of the season because the grip is constantly changing and it's very hard to find a reference point. The weather is also extremely unpredictable: it's possible to have rain, fog, snow and sunshine – or sometimes all of them together at the same time!”
This year's Rally GB begins with a ceremonial start on Thursday night in Colwyn Bay and the rally finishing on Sunday lunchtime at Llandudno after 23 gravel stages and 305 competitive kilometres. For Karl, the pressure is off now and he knows that another win should help him to the runner-up spot in the WRC2 championship. However, as he acknowledges, he has been unlucky on Rally GB in the past.
“In 2010, when I was driving the Suzuki, a wheel bolt broke right at the end of the rally,” the Estonian explained. “Then in 2011, I was off on the first corner of the first forest stage: it was dark and very hard to see, and we hit a post on the inside of the corner. In 2012 we lost a lot of time after missing a braking point and going straight on into some rocks. So it's not exactly been a fantastic event for us. But it means things can only get better. Myself and my co-driver Martin [Järveoja] are both feeling very relaxed, and while Spain was so disappointing for us, we're going to come back from this experience a lot stronger. We've already won one championship this year, so two would be greedy! But I think there's room for another win this year… it would be the perfect way to end the season.”
Did you know? Britain's round of the World Rally Championship is one of the oldest events on the calendar, having been first run in 1932 and formed part of the championship since it was founded in 1973. At its longest, in 1970, the event covered around 3700 kilometres in total. This year it will cover 1363.91 kilometres.