Gregoire Munster takes maiden Junior WRC victory on Rally Estonia

Gregoire Munster takes maiden Junior WRC victory on Rally Estonia

 

Gregoire Munster claimed a narrow but hard-fought victory on Rally Estonia in a fight that went down to the wire. 

Diego Dominguez drew first blood on the Tartu Vald Super Special to open Rally Estonia and take the overnight lead in Junior WRC.

 
William Creighton leapfrogged Dominguez on Friday’s first stage with a Wolf Stage Win Point as both Eamonn Kelly and Tom Rensonnet fell victim to Estonia’s tricky conditions early on with both drivers able to continue for the rest of the day. 

 
Creighton doubled down on his form to take another stage win on the third stage of the rally, distancing himself from second place and went on to extend his lead.

 
Grégoire Munster’s confidence grew through the morning as he bagged his first Wolf Stage Win Point of the weekend on stage four. At the end of the morning loop Munster had risen to second, with Creighton still on top.

 
Stage five saw disaster for Creighton who broke his suspension and was forced off the road and out of the rally for the day.

 
Despite Munster inheriting the lead, Laurent Pellier was immediately on Munster’s case, trailing him by just 3.3 seconds after stage six. The pressure was on and Munster responded posting two back-to-back stage wins to end the day with a 12.6-second lead over Pellier.

 
Despite his early form, Dominguez couldn’t match the pace upfront on Friday and ended the day in a lonely third place. 
 

Saturday’s action got under way with the return of Creighton who ticked off his restart witha pair of Wolf Stage Win Points

 
Munster and Pellier continued to do battle, setting the exact same time as neither driver showed no sign of letting up in their quest for victory.

 
Munster opened up his lead to 20 seconds on stage 10 before Pellier brought four seconds back in his favour in their nip and tuck battle. The end of the loop saw Creighton bag another Wolf Stage Win Point ahead of Munster by just four tenths as Pellier another four tenths down.

 
Creighton continued his form on the afternoon loop, grabbing another championship point via a stage win as Pellier sent a clear message to Munster, taking almost 10 seconds out of his lead and just four seconds down overall.

 
The scrap continued between Munster on Pellier who then tied each other on times again, this time on stage 14!

 
Creighton kept on collecting Wolf Stage Win Points, notching his eighth of the rally on the 15th stage of Rally Estonia. Despite Creighton’s blistering pace all eyes continued to be drawn on Munster and Pellier with the Frenchman making up more ground and this time was within 2.2 seconds of taking the lead.

 
Just as Pellier had a sniff of glory, Munster reacted, bagging his fifth Wolf Stage Win Point and continued his momentum to reach a 6.4 second advantage over Pellier by the close of Saturday. 

 
Dominguez held steady with third on Saturday, with the only notable performance coming on the final stage of the day which he won.

 
Sunday on Rally Estonia consisted for four stages without a service, as Munster led the Junior WRC field for one more day of battle but was only able to edge Pellier by 1.4 seconds on the first stage of the day.

 
Creighton won the first pass of both stages convincingly on Sunday morning, as Munster continued to keep edging open his lead as Pellier’s positivity seemed almost exhausted.

 
Then suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere, Pellier came springing back into action on SS20 with a convincing stage win and was within 5.7 seconds of Munster with 18 and a half kilometres left to run.

 
Everything had built up to the final stage of the rally, as Munster led a charging Pellier by a handful of seconds. The pair were barely separated on the splits as they powered through with Munster coming to the stop line unsure if he had done enough to keep Pellier at bay.

 
Pellier tried but two deflating tyres meant he had to settle for second as his championship fight was already focussed on the final round of the season.

 
Dominguez came home to claim a well-earned third placed after gaining a lot of experience on roads he had never driven before. 

 
Creighton ultimately finished seventh on the rally, claiming an impressive Wolf Stage Win Points as he desperately tried to salvage what could have been a disaster outing for the Irishman.

 
Roberto Blach was driving on fast gravel for the first time in Estonia. Although he has stood on the podium twice already this year, the Spaniard opted to gain valuable experience and bring home a solid fourth place in lieu of pushing for all out pace.

 
Hamza Anwar made significant progress on his performance in Junior WRC on Rally Estonia, delivering a respectable fifth place. The Kenyan had been pushing himself throughout the rally, with notably stepped-up pace.

 
Tom Rensonnet was embarking upon his second ever gravel rally outing in Estonia, the Belgian’s rally had hardly begun when he rolled on stage two. He was able to continue though, posting occasional top-five times eventually settling for sixth overall. 
 

Eamonn Kelly’s rally started in a similar fashion to Rensonnet, slipping into a ditch on stage two, taking almost thirty minutes to escape. The Irishman kept going though, with consistent top-five times. Kelly would ultimately retire from the rally on the final stage though, rolling with no way of continuing.


Maciej Woda, FIA Junior WRC Championship Manager, said:
“Huge congratulations to Gregoire on winning Junior WRC on Rally Estonia! This rally has definitely had its interesting twist and turns. We headed into the final loop of stages this morning with a dramatic fight for the lead and no clear indication of whether it would be Pellier or Munster who would come out on top. Laurent did a commendable job of fighting with Gregoire and should be proud of his performance, he knew he had to deliver a podium performance on this rally for his championship hopes. Diego Dominguez had quite a quiet rally this weekend, but he delivered yet another podium position and I am sure will be a threat in the title fight in Greece. Finally, I want to also say congratulations to Hamza Anwar who claimed fifth on the rally but showed excellent progression and has impressed everybody this weekend.”

 
Gregoire Munster, FIA Junior WRC Rally Estonia Winner, said: “Great, we came here to prepare for Finland to get a bit of a taste of the fast road we can find here and in Finland. I think we managed well; we had a quick pace through the weekend, did not make any mistakes despite two punctures we still managed to stay in the lead. Every time Laurent pushed a bit more, we increased the gap on the stage after. It’s important to have someone like Laurent pushing us, sometimes you think you are driving 100% and he pushed us out of our comfort zone.”


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