News | 22/04/2022
Pajari aims high in the World Rally Championship in Croatia
The World Rally Championship returns in Croatia this weekend with Finnish duo Sami Pajari - Enni Mälkönen, who will compete for World Championship points in two classes.
In WRC3 the duo is in the series lead, in the JWRC class they sit in third place. In the previous rally in Sweden the crew suffered a technical fault on the opening day of the race.
The JWRC series races are pre-defined on the calendar, while the WRC3 races are freely selectable from the calendar. For example, Lauri Joona, who is second in the WRC3, does not collect points from Croatia, but saves stakes for the rest of the season, so monitoring the championship situation in real time is challenging.
In the Croatian rally of last year, Pajari was in the lead on the opening day of the race, when in the third special stage an excessive jump caused a heavy accident for the crew. Like a miracle, he was able to continue and collect important points.
The route as a whole is almost the same as last year, only a couple of new special stages. “Nice roads and lots of nice stages, and it wasn’t necessary to make all the notes new” says Pajari.
In all, the rally will feature 20 special stages measuring approximately 292 kilometers. On Friday, eight special stages will be run over 120 kilometers, and on Saturday there will be eight special stages and about 117 kilometers, then Sunday four stages will cover more than 54 kilometers.
The Service Park is in Zagreb, with stages west and southwest on Friday and Saturday, and north on the closing day.
There has been a two-month break in the series from the Swedish rally to Croatia, and that time has, of course, been used to make the most of the driving experience.
“During the race break, I finished the army, so now there is one less challenge in terms of schedules. In various driving events, the feeling of driving was maintained in the snow, for example in Vanttauskoski. Good tests were also run for this race in conditions in northern Italy. There is no harm in the feeling of snow either, after all, the asphalt is quite slippery in some places and the grip varies” says Pajari.
During last season in the JWRC series, Pajari’s toughest challenge in the race for the junior championship was the British driver Jon Armstrong, who drove to victory in Sweden this year. Pajari's desired success in the ERC series was also met by Jean-Baptiste Franceschi from France.
Just under a week after the ERC championship was confirmed, the Frenchman drove out in a national rally and was seriously injured. Now, however, has recovered and is able to redeem his prize, i.e. participation in the WRC.
“It’s really interesting to see his pace and it’s really great that he’s recovered from a serious accident”
Last year, the rally was run with the covid restrictions, however the crowd was still thick in many places.
“I think the audience is going to be really large, it was already last year, but now we really see what it really can be. Yes, it gives a good extra feeling” Pajari concludes.
FIA Junior WRC
- Jon Armstrong (GBR) 30p
- Lauri Joona (FIN) 21p
- Sami Pajari (FIN) 17p
- William Creighton (IRL) 16p
- McRae Kimathi (KEN) 12p
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