News | 11/08/2021

Pajari leading the JWRC series before Belgian asphalt

Sami Pajari and Marko Salminen, will start the Belgian Ypres rally on Friday in the JWRC series points lead. However, there are only four points to the Latvian Martins Sesks lurking behind, and Belgian asphalt is a new element for a large number of drivers, as it is the first appearance of Ypres in the WRC series. Last season the competition almost took place, but the current Covid situation in Belgium eventually prevented competition from taking place.

- For me, the first time I was competing in Belgium, last year I had to run a training race here for Ypres, but the race was canceled at the point when we were already at the competition venue, Pajari recalled.

This year’s race features a total of 20 special stages on asphalt, measuring 296 kilometers. In many places, Belgian roads allow for fair straightening, so one of the challenges of the race will certainly be to keep the grip through the bends. Straightening brings huge amounts of sand, soil, hay and even mud to the road, especially if rain falls on the competition area and in Belgium the threat is always there, as happened recently in the form of floods.

- There has been enough rain here during the summer until the flooding, as a result of which our accommodation also changed just before the competition. Even though the roads here are dry now, it can be very wet outside the road, so there is probably a bit of talk about slipperiness in every driver’s comments during the race.

Eight special stages with a length of 135 kilometers will be run in the rally on Friday, so almost half of the rally will be run during Friday. The cluster of four special stages, which is driven twice, remains within a radius of about 30 kilometers from Ypres, a rare delicacy is promised in that the day stretches far into the evening and the darkness descends, so there is definitely a need for additional lights.

Saturday's run also consists of a two-run run of four special stages with a length of about 120 kilometers. Mostly on Saturday you drive south of Ypres, very close to the French border.

On Sunday, we head for quite different landscapes, namely about 300 kilometers east towards Germany, next to the Eiffel Mountains around the Spa-Francorchamps F1 track. The two special stages are run twice, measuring a total of 40.5 kilometers. There will hardly be any big differences in them, but the audience will certainly be happy when the track framework can be utilized in the rally as well.

- We didn't run the actual test for the race, we have pretty good settings for the asphalt, then on Thursday night the shakedown will act as a good test, Pajari pondered the upcoming race.

Points situation - Junior WRC 3/5 race

1. Sami Pajari (FIN) 71p

2. Martins Sesks (LAT) 67p

3. Jon Armstrong (GBR) 56p

4. Lauri Joona (FIN) 40p

5. Martin Koci (SVK) 34p

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