Rally Estonia marks second half of WRC season

Rally Estonia marks second half of WRC season

Some of the fastest roads in the FIA World Rally Championship await the crews when the 2021 season moves into its second half at Rally Estonia on July 15-18.

Some of the fastest roads in the FIA World Rally Championship await the crews when the 2021 season moves into its second half at Rally Estonia on July 15-18.

2020 WRC - Rally Estonia - O. Tänak/M. Järveojä (photo DPPI / F. Flamand)


First run in 2010, Rally Estonia has grown to become the largest motor sport event in the Baltic region, and joined the WRC calendar last year to stage the return to competition following the break imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. It features high-speed roads with plenty of jumps and crests, combined with more technical sections. Due to the soft and sandy surface, ruts can often provide an added challenge on the second pass of stages.


Having won four of the first six rounds, including the last Safari Rally in Kenya, Sébastien Ogier leads the standings at the halfway stage in his bid for an eighth world title. His advantage lies at 34 points over his Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans. In the Hyundai squad, Thierry Neuville is 56 points away from the lead while Estonian hero Ott Tänak, a further eight points back, will be a favourite to repeat his home victory from 2020.


Finland’s Kalle Rovanperä will feel similarly close to home on Estonia’s high-speed roads, with his fellow Toyota youngster Takamoto Katsuta looking to repeat a great result following his maiden podium finish in Kenya. Craig Breen, who finished second after Tänak on last year’s event, returns at the wheel of the third factory Hyundai for the first time since Rally Croatia in April. Teemu Suninen lines up for M-Sport Ford alongside Gus Greensmith, while Pierre-Louis Loubet will be back in action in his 2C Compétition-entered Hyundai after missing the trip to Africa.


FIA WRC2 championship leader Andreas Mikkelsen tops a 10-car field in the category, with competition coming from the likes of Mads Østberg, Adrien Fourmaux and the Hyundai duo of Jari Huttunen and Oliver Solberg. Nikolay Gryazin will head to Rally Estonia fresh from a FIA European Rally Championship victory in the neighbouring Latvia last week.


Kajetan Kajetanowicz heads a further 14 crews entered in FIA WRC3, which includes Estonian ace Egon Kaur, who finished second in the class on his last outing at Arctic Rally Finland in February, and two-time FIA European Rally Champion Alexey Lukyanuk, who will make his first appearance on the world stage in over four years.


Rally Estonia is round three of the FIA Junior WRC season, in which Latvian driver Mārtiņš Sesks holds a nine-point lead over Finland’s Sami Pajari after winning their previous contest in Portugal.

THE 2021 ROUTE

Rally Estonia changes from three to four days for its second WRC appearance. It will start with a super special stage in Tartu next to the Raadi airfield Service Park which will kick off the competitive action on Thursday evening after Shakedown takes place in the morning. Friday’s four stages, all run twice, feature familiar names from 2020 but with revised routes: Kanepi will be run in the opposite direction to last year. Saturday brings four new stages to the WRC, including the longest test of the rally, the 23.56 kilometre Peipsääre. There’s also a repeat visit to the Tartu super special to round out the day. A trio of repeated stages concludes the rally on Sunday, with the Wolf Power Stage finishing at the Service Park., starts at 1200 CET on Sunday, 18 July.
 

Image: 2020 WRC - Rally Estonia - O. Tänak/M. Järveojä (photo DPPI / F. Flamand)


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