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News | 16/02/2020

2020 JWRC Rally Sweden - End of Rally Report

Sami Pajari, who took part in his second World Rally Championship in his career, finishing fourth place in the Junior WRC class in challenging conditions in the shortened Swedish World Rally Championship.

The first week of Sami Pajari and co-driver Marko Salminen in Sweden was spent exploring the Ford Fiesta R2T delivered by M-Sport Poland together with other JWRC drivers.

On Wednesday the crew were on recce, and at it was clear that it was not a purely winter rally. The route had already been drastically shortened, almost by half, but there was still plenty of summer conditions in the race to kill the spike tires.

Thursday’s special stage in Karlstad eventually turned into a shakedown that everyone had to run through at least once. The Pajari crew chose the tactic of driving through the shakedown very calmly and saving the tires as well as possible for the race itself.

The opening special stage of the race on Friday did not go quite well as the ranking was sixth and the difference with Tom Kristensson, who is leading the race, was almost half a minute. The car's settings were slightly changed before the next special stage, and as a result, the fourth fastest time in the class was created on the board.

- After the first special test, a few adjustments were made and made more favourable to these challenging conditions. The tires have been reasonably comfortable enough to finish every stage, Pajari said.

After three special stages, the ranking was Fifth, but the difference to the top had already accumulated to 53 seconds. At the end of Friday, a drive of less than three kilometers was driven in Torsby completely on gravel, where the car's power steering broke and the gap to the top grew by eight seconds.

On Saturday, the program had the same loop of four special stages. The day started clearly faster and right on the first of the morning the clocks stopped at the fourth fastest time in the class. In the second special stage, the ranking was again fourth, just over 2 seconds from the best time.

Then a great base time was recorded for the third special stage. Each special stage of the JWRC class will receive one World Championship point for each special stage, so they may also become valuable towards the end of the season.

- The car has been good today, the right adjustments have been found and it has felt that we have finally been able to drive on our own level after yesterday's difficulties. Finally, the car was adjusted and it feels good, Pajari is in the mood for the special stage.

At the end of Saturday, the same audience special test was run in Torsby as on Friday.

Overall, however, the second day of the race went consistently well and Pajari was the second fastest of the JWRC drivers on Saturday, taking into account the special stages, and fifth in the overall results before the final day.

Already on Saturday, the competition organizers announced that the day already cut into two special stages on Sunday would be shortened once more and the only special stage was the 21-kilometer Power Stage in Likenäs.

The rainy weather moved even the last snowy sections to ice and gravel sections even to the mud and the Pajari-Salminen duo decided to take the last special stage calmly, fearing mistakes. The weather conditions turned out to be e.g. fatal to another JWRC-class Finn, Lauri Joona, when a tire failure ruined a well-run race.

- This last one was driven sensibly and no big risks were taken. Lauri on behalf of Joona is annoyed when he had a great race going on until the tire broke. All in all, a good upswing race from us and we can be really happy with the result, Pajari summed up the unluckiness of the competitor in the finish.

At the finish, the duo was fourth, ahead of Tom Kristensson from Finland, Martins Sesks from Latvia and Ken Torn from Estonia, who finished second on the podium.

- Overall a good race from Sami. Sure, it’s a little annoying to take for Friday’s adjustments, but there was a lot to learn in many areas to come. The flawless race, the base time and the pace shown yesterday and today give a lot of positive energy for the future, said Pajari's coach Kristian Sohlberg after the rally.