News | 24/02/2022

Defending the championship the main goal for the new Junior WRC season - Pajari’s JWRC season starts tonight in Rally Sweden

The reigning FIA Junior World Rally Champion Sami Pajari and his co-driver Enni Mälkönen are ready to race at Rally Sweden starting on Friday evening at the new Umeå based region. The event also kicks-off the new Junior WRC season.

The Finnish duo is aiming for success in two championships this season: Pajari opened his season with a victory in the WRC3 Open series in Monte Carlo in January and Sweden marks the first of the five events in the Junior WRC season. Drivers can register themselves to collect points for both championships at the same events and both championships only count the best four results for each competitor.

Last year, Rally Sweden was canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions and a replacement event was run in Rovaniemi, Finland as Arctic Rally Finland. For this year the Swedish event, which has had major issues with snow coverage in recent years, has been moved from the southern parts of the country to near the northern border to the region of Umeå in Västerbotten County.

This year, the competition will not suffer from a lack of snow or severe COVID-19 restrictions. However, a small hurdle has come from reindeer moving in the rally region, which has forced the organizer to cancel both runs of a special stage scheduled for Saturday. The number of competitive kilometers thus fell from over 300 to little more than 260 with 17 special stages in total to decide the winner. While not a remarkable difference in mileage, the change does remove two championship points off the table in JWRC, as there each stage winner is granted a point. With a close fight predicted for the championship, even small point differences will become crucial in deciding the first champion of the 4WD era of Junior WRC.

“The stages do indeed look mighty fast, as many have noted before the event. There are a few slower and trickier sections too for sure, and those will allow making bigger time differences than the top speed sections. Friday starts with some very long stages and has the highest number of them, so we need to be at the top speed from early on. We’re not going to take any pressure from that however, relaxing to the right rhythm is the way for us”, Pajari puts to words his initial thoughts of the event.

In previous years, the weather and especially snow and ice conditions have been one of the main talking points in Rally Sweden. According to the reconnaissance it seems the issue will not be as prominent this time around: snow banks are high and the roads are in good ice, even if gravel can appear at places.

“Weather has been perfect during the recce and forecasts predict nice winter conditions for the duration of the competition. The temperature does fluctuate around zero celsius though and it might be that gravel comes up more prominently especially on the stages run twice. We are certain it will be a wonderful rally and are looking forward to getting it going on Friday morning,” the well prepared and smiling Finnish duo summarizes.

The Shakedown stage took place on Thursday afternoon and the ceremonial start takes place in the same evening. Friday then will be the first competitive day of Rally Sweden with the first stage starting at 08:42 Swedish time. Friday will host altogether 7 special stages with 125,67 competitive kilometers to race.

On Saturday the first stage starts at 8:57 and the day will see the competitors travers 82,30 kilometers on the six special stages of the day. Finally, the event concludes on Sunday’s 4 stages, the first of which starts already at 07:00 local rally time. The final day has 56,85 kilometers of special stages in store with the event-ending Power Stage starting at 12:18.

Live results:

Sami Pajari online