News | 21/04/2021

2021 JWRC Rally Croatia Preview

The last year’s bronze medalists in the FIA Junior WRC championship Sami Pajari & Marko Salminen have a clear objective for the season at hand: to become the JWRC champions of 2021. The Croatia Rally is a true challenge for all the competitors as it now hosts a round of the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time in history.

The event is the first completely asphalt surfaced event in WRC since Rally Germany in August 2019 and with its 300 kilometres of special stages it is also the first “whole length” WRC event since last year’s season opener Rallye Monte-Carlo. The rally starts on coming Friday and the last of the altogether 20 special stages take place on Sunday. The rally route circles the region of the host city of Zagreb.

Despite the JWRC off-season of a few months, Pajari has continued to race on other events, taking home the class victories in both the WRC Arctic Rally Finland in February and a Finnish Rally Championship round of Kouvola in March. Pajari has also trained with a large variety of different rally cars, including the all new Rally3 class Ford Fiesta.

After the snowy winter Pajari also did preparations for the tarmac of Croatia at the Tykkimäki Circuit in Kouvola before heading to northern Italy and the famous Vittorio Caneva rally school for more insight into driving on asphalt. The trip included testing in Slovenia with the italian JME Rally Team to finalise the car’s setup right before traveling to Croatia and the recce days for the rally itself.

“I’m very happy with the results of the pre-event tests in Slovenia! All went perfectly and I’m confident in the setup we tuned for the WRC event. It’s a great feeling to be able to start the rally with so good preparations behind us.” Pajari summarises the pre-event tests.

The unpredictable springtime of Croatia can offer everything from blasting sunshine to pouring rain, even if the current forecasts promise a soothing 15˚C of warmth and clear skies for the weekend. The road surfaces offer their own challenge too: the 300 kms of special stages include many different types of asphalt in widely varying conditions. The roads will also be covered with mud and gravel as a result of corner cutting by the previous competitors before it is Pajari’s turn to compete with the number 46 on his doors. The quick changes in grip and twisty roads leave no margin error, and Pajari will need all his concentration skills at the helm of his Ford Fiesta Rally4 to earn celebrations at the end of Rally Croatia on Sunday.