News | 16/08/2021

Pajari second in Belgium, the championship will be settled in Spain

The fourth and penultimate race of the JWRC season was run for three days in the Belgian Ypres Rally. Sami Pajari - Marko Salminen in the Ford Fiesta Rally4 started the rally with a 4 point lead ahead of Latvian Martins Sesks. Third was Briton Jon Armstrong, who had a difference of 15 points to Pajari.

The start of Friday was in Armstrong’s control, with the first four special stages creating a gap to more than half a minute, with Pajari 52 seconds away in fourth. After the service break, the special stages were run again and now Pajari improved his pace.

Arriving for the night break after Friday, the Finnish couple had risen to third, the difference was now 56.8 seconds to Armstrong, who was leading, and 6.9 seconds to Robert Virves in second position.

- It was a bit of a difficult day for us, but it is also a difficult rally. In the morning the driving felt just fine but the times were not good. We changed the settings a bit and driving through it improved towards the evening, Pajari said after Friday.

The goal for Saturday would be to get past Virves. In the special stages of the morning the difference did not narrow but came almost even, Armstrong had already increased his lead to over a minute. In the afternoon, Pajari dug up more momentum again and drove two best times. After Saturday, the evening service Armstrong led by a minute, but Virves was left behind with a 15-second margin.

Sunday would be the second place in the race.

- The other day was good, two base times. We left fourth in the morning and are now second. Driving today was enjoyable and driving on the asphalt was already worthwhile, Pajari repeated Saturday more clearly than Friday.

On Sunday, 300 kilometers east of the Ypres area, we moved to the landscapes of the Spa-Francorchamps motor sports sanctuary, where four special stages were run, partly utilizing the track area. About 40 special test kilometers on Sunday did not bring much change to the results. Armstrong held his lead, Pajari second, and Virves third.

The situation in the series changed insofar as Pajari still leads, now Armstrong 3 points behind and Sesks dropped to third, now a difference to Pajari by 14 points. The second Finnish driver Lauri Joona is fourth in points 39 points from Pajari.

- There was an attempt to drive such a smart but fast-paced race in this extremely challenging race, where there is a lot of variation in grip. A lot was learned for the future from different asphalt surfaces. During the race we got the pace improved well, the Finnish duo announced after the race.

The JWRC series will continue in mid-October on asphalt in Catalonia, Spain, but Pajari’s season will continue in a couple of weeks in the ERC race in Barum, Czech Republic, with asphalt roads set to defend the ERC3 Junior class lead.

Score, JWRC 4/5 events:

1. Sami Pajari (FIN) 91

2. Jon Armstrong (GBR) 88

3. Martins Sesks (LAT) 77

4. Lauri Joona (FIN) 52

5. William Creighton (FIN) 45