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Rally Estonia (WRC) - 15-18 Jul 21

Posted: July 14, 2021 10:19 AM - 756 Hits

Round 7 - 2021 World Rally Championship

Live Results (Estonia 2021) Also available at: rally-base results & ewrc-results.com
Event Website: Rally Estonia
First stage each day - Times are Irish/UK (Estonia is 2 hours ahead)
Shakedown Thu - 07:01
SS1 Thu - 18:38
SS2 Fri - 07:40
SS10 Sat - 06:06
SS19 Sun - 05:21

M-SPORT’S EMERGING FAB FOUR TO THE FORE IN ESTONIA

Posted: July 14, 2021 10:19 AM

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team will be back up to speed on the high-speed gravel stages of Rally Estonia this week (15-18 July).

Teemu Suninen returns to the British squad’s World Rally Car line-up alongside Gus Greensmith in two EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs. M-Sport’s WRC2 challenge resumes in Estonia with Adrien Fourmaux reverting to a Ford Fiesta Rally2 having excelled on Safari Rally Kenya in a top-level Fiesta, while Tom Kristensson makes his third appearance in WRC2 as part of his prize for winning the Junior WRC title in 2020.

After Greensmith and Fourmaux registered M-Sport’s best result of the season so far in East Africa last month, the focus switches from measured pace to driving flat out on Rally Estonia’s fast and popular gravel stages.

The event marks the start of part two of the 2021 season having made its WRC debut last September when it hosted the restart of the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship following the first wave of the global health pandemic.

Back then, and in line with the constraints at the time, organisers ran a compact three-day event but have reverted to a more traditional format for 2021. This includes a competitive distance of 319.38 kilometres over 24 mainly gravel stages from Thursday to Sunday.

The expanded route has resulted in a flurry of new stages being added to the itinerary or modifications being made to existing layouts. However, the fast-paced challenge remains unaltered with Rally Estonia rivalling Rally Finland as the WRC’s fastest contest.

Crews charge through spectacular open Estonian countryside – peppered with jumps and crests – and forest sections with thousands of fans getting ready to watch the action from the various vantage points along the route.

Compared to Rally Finland, Rally Estonia’s stages are softer in nature with ruts a potential challenge when stages are used for a second time. And with a mid-July date compared to the early autumn slot occupied in 2020, higher ambient and ground temperatures are expected.

Estonia’s second largest city Tartu, in the southeast of the country, remains Rally Estonia’s hub. Following Thursday’s opening city test, Friday’s action is based south of Tartu and includes four repeated stages. Crews head north of Tartu for Saturday morning’s two repeated runs before they travel south of the city for a brace of double-use stages in the afternoon. Three stages repeated are set for Sunday with the rally-deciding Power Stage due to begin at 14h18 local time.

To prepare for Rally Estonia, Greensmith and Suninen shared a three-day test earlier this month, while Fourmaux and Kristensson also got the opportunity to carry out pre-event running in the country.

Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“Rally Estonia is a very different event to what we experienced in Kenya. On the Safari it was all about following a game plan and getting to the finish of what was a very tough and challenging rally. Estonia, however, is flat out from the word go.

“All our drivers have experience of the event and Gus and Teemu will head into rally week on the back of a strong three-day test, where we put into place recent damper development and chassis set-up work.

“We start Rally Estonia not only boosted by a strong result in Kenya, where Gus led Adrien home in fourth place, but we can also perhaps count on a more favorable road position for both Gus and Teemu. We hope they take advantage of that and show good speed on selected stages. A couple of stage wins thrown into the mix would be pleasing to see and if we can stay close to the podium positions then we will have achieved our expectations.”

GUS GREENSMITH CHRIS PATTERSON
On a high after scoring his best WRC finish to date in Kenya last month in fourth place, Briton Gus Greensmith, 24, will aim to capitalise on a successful test in the build-up to Rally Estonia. Continuing his partnership with vastly experienced co-driver Chris Patterson, Greensmith made his Estonia debut last year and finished eighth.

Gus Greensmith said:
“Kenya was all about being smart, surviving the conditions and managing your pace. Estonia is just about being flat out from the outset and keeping it flat out until the end of the rally.

“I’ve always tended to do well on fast rallies even though we’ve not been as strong as we’d like to have been. But we’ve had a good test between myself and Teemu and I believe we’ve made the car even more drivable and predictable. Looking at the onboards from last year, the majority of the time lost was from big slides or mistakes being made when struggling to get the best out of the car so the changes should help.

“The update made to the engine earlier this year means it pulls better at the top end. It’s a small change but top-end speed is what we need in Estonia so hopefully we can be more competitive than what we were last year. Certainly, the confidence is high in the team after Kenya and a top-six result in Estonia is a realistic target.”

TEEMU SUNINEN MIKKO MARKKULA
Back in the WRC for the first time since Rally Italia Sardinia in early June, Rally Estonia is almost a home event for Flying Finn Teemu Suninen, 27, who finished sixth last season, his third start in the country.

Teemu Suninen said:
“I’ve always loved the rally, it has challenging roads but also super-high speed so something similar to what we have in Finland. Although it’s similar speed-wise there are less crests and jumps in Estonia but there starts to be quite a few artificial jumps, which are hard to understand how far you can jump.

“The surface is more sandy compared to Finland and I would like to think I can take advantage of my road position and hopefully get a better result than last year. Last year we were struggling a bit with the pace, but hopefully the one and a half days of testing we have done will also help.

“Having done some testing I’m not worried about getting back up to speed in the World Rally Car because I have a good feeling and a good understanding from the aero. I don’t think having the rally in July rather than September will make a big difference, apart from maybe with the tyres, with softs in the morning and maybe some hards in the afternoon. The airflow is quite high in the car on fast stages so the heat should not be a problem.”

ADRIEN FOURMAUX RENAUD JAMOUL
Frenchman Adrien Fourmaux, 26, has form on Rally Estonia. He was third in class on his first appearance in 2019 and took the runner-up spot in WRC2 last season. Arriving in Estonia after registering his first stage win in the WRC, Fourmaux reckons time spent behind the wheel of a Fiesta World Rally Car will help his switch back to the Rally2 version.

Adrien Fourmaux said:
“It’s a really good rally for the Nordic drivers because it’s a proper Nordic rally, so fast with some really big jumps! But the surface is more sandy compared to Finland and on the second pass you have some really big ruts and you really need to change the set-up of the car. But the rally is really nice, really fast and the Estonian people are also really nice, waving at you on the road sections like they did in Kenya. I did this challenge of switching back to a Rally2 car from a World Rally Car for Sardinia. Where I need to be careful is on the really fast corners because you don’t have the aero like you do in a World Rally Car. It’s really easy to take too much speed into a corner so I need to switch my brain to the Rally2 car. But I am sure the World Rally Car will help me to be faster because the speed is higher and it can help me to have less stress. The goal is to be able to fight for the championship. Okay, I am against more experienced drivers, but with the testing we have done I am confident I can fight with them.”

TOM KRISTENSSON DAVID ARHUSIANDER
Tom Kristensson, who gets his third WRC2 start in the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta Rally2, part of his prize for winning the FIA Junior WRC title in 2020, was topping the JWRC classification on his Rally Estonia debut last year when a mechanical failure put him out. He returns hoping recent lifestyle changes will make him a better driver.

Tom Kristensson said:
“I didn’t do many stages last year after the engine problem on SS3, but I have a taste of the roads and the conditions. I was very sad last year because I had a very good feeling and it’s one of my absolute favourite rallies. With the Rally2 car it will be much easier because of the help from the suspension. I will still need to find the correct line but in the Rally2 car it’s more about driving and not to think how much the car will be able to handle everything. I was struggling a lot before Croatia and also Portugal because there was so much to organise with the budget. But I have done some lifestyle changes. I stopped my normal work so I just have three days a week of work and the rest is for rally preparation. It means I have more time to focus and this is a rally that I feel comfortable going to. I want to find my speed and my pace, whether it’s enough for third or fifth I don’t know but I know it will be good when I am there.”

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing aims to continue its winning WRC form

Posted: July 14, 2021 10:16 AM

The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team heads into the second half of the 2021 season at Rally Estonia (July 15-18) with the target of continuing the strong form that has seen it win each of the last three rallies – and five of the six rounds held so far this year.

After his win on the return of the legendary Safari Rally Kenya last month, Sébastien Ogier leads the drivers’ standings by 34 points over his team-mate and closest rival Elfyn Evans. Sixth in the standings, Kalle Rovanperä will aim to return to the podium in Estonia on roads that suit him well, while TGR WRC Challenge Program driver Takamoto Katsuta will hope to build upon his maiden WRC podium finish in Kenya.

Introduced to the WRC calendar in 2020, Rally Estonia is best known for its high-speed roads with crests and jumps, although more technical sections do also feature. The surface can be soft and sandy, meaning ruts can form for the second pass of each stage.

The event expands this year to cover 314.16 competitive kilometres and 24 stages across four days, starting on Thursday with an evening super special stage close to the service park in Tartu, Estonia’s second largest city. Friday and Saturday both feature a loop of four stages to be repeated after mid-day service, but while Friday’s stages are familiar from the 2020 event, Saturday’s are new – aside from a second pass of the Tartu super special to round out the day. A loop of three stages is run twice without a service break on Sunday, including a new Power Stage that runs adjacent to the service park.

Quotes:

Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“It has been a really strong season for us so far and now we need to keep up the same great work during the second half of the year. Rally Estonia is a very different challenge to Kenya: This one is all about the speed. We know that it is not going to be easy to win there, but I certainly hope that we can challenge for the top positions once again. In our testing for this event we have focused on the smaller and more technical roads which were a bit of a weakness last year, and I think we are looking better now in this area. I know that all of our drivers will be hungry to do well.”

Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 1)
“To have won four rallies already this season is mega and better than we could have expected. Winning rallies at the moment in the WRC is tough because the competition is very hard, so I’m very happy with our season so far. Rally Estonia is a challenging one to win, especially running first on the road, but I will do my best to keep scoring big points. Certainly the ground will be much smoother than in Kenya, so we can really focus on the driving and on trying to find the limits. It’s always a difficult challenge to be on the limit on such fast roads that we have in the north of Europe, but I think it’s a challenge that every single driver enjoys.”

Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“Kenya was not a great rally for me in terms of championship points but we need to put that aside and focus on doing the best we can in Estonia. Even though there were some very high-speed sections in Kenya, Rally Estonia has a very different character. The sort of stages we have there really bring out the best from this current crop of cars, and driving the Yaris WRC is always such a fantastic thrill on roads like these. We know the basis of our car is generally very good in high-speed sections, but there were a few things that we didn’t get 100 per cent correct for Estonia last year, so in testing we’ve been trying to get the car as good as we can and just be as prepared as possible.”

Kalle Rovanperä / Jonne Halttunen
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“I have always liked the fast rallies like Estonia. I have driven a lot in the Baltic countries and they have the same kind of fast and flowing roads as in Finland. It suits me really well, and you can also feel that the Yaris WRC likes these kinds of roads. It’s important to be confident in your car and in yourself on a rally like this or you can lose a lot of time. I’m really looking forward to turn things in a better direction for us in the second half of the season, and I think Estonia can be a good event for that. I hope we will have a good feeling and a clean rally, and then hopefully we can start to have good results again.”

Hyundai Motorsport Preview: Round 7 – Rally Estonia

Posted: July 14, 2021 10:13 AM

Hyundai Motorsport will return to Rally Estonia next week, determined to rediscover its winning form as the 2021 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) enters its second half.

The team secured a confident 1-2 result on the fast gravel Estonian roads last season, an event that marked the re-start of the 2020 season. Hyundai Motorsport’s three WRC crews will be aiming to get its 2021 season back on track after a run of challenging rallies and unsatisfactory results.

The team will field the same trio of drivers as it did last season with Ott Tänak, Thierry Neuville and Craig Breen hoping to get up to speed quickly in their Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC cars.

Estonians Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja dominated the 2020 edition of their home rally and return to their local event on the back of a third-placed podium finish in Safari Rally Kenya a fortnight ago.

Neuville, alongside new co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe, has impressed with strong performances so far this season, including four podium finishes. The crew was cruelly denied victory in Kenya but have plenty of hunger to rectify that in Estonia. Craig Breen and Paul Nagle, in their first event of the year since Croatia Rally, approach one of their favoured rallies, in which they scored their debut Hyundai Motorsport podium ten months ago.

Rally Estonia’s itinerary has been expanded to its full version for this year’s event, with familiar and tweaked stages, as well as new tests. The event will be run over 320 competitive kilometres and 24 stages, featuring high speed gravel routes and jumps, coupled with equally demanding technical sections.

Team Principal Andrea Adamo said:
“We have spent the short period since Safari Rally Kenya to review the issues we have encountered in recent events. There is only so much we can do in this time frame, but we head to Estonia with our motivation levels high, and a determination to show what we can achieve. Just because we finished 1-2 in last year’s Rally Estonia doesn’t automatically guarantee results this year; we must work as hard as we can, stay focused and extract all the performance we can from our car – which, by the way, has shown itself to be very fast on all events so far this season. There is always luck involved in rallying, of course, but we have to become more in control of our own destiny.”

Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (#11 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Belgian crew has scored four of the team’s seven podium results so far in 2021 Another new challenge for the partnership in their seventh WRC event together

Neuville said: “Rally Estonia was the first edition of our re-started championship last year, so it will be good to go back. It is quite a fast event, with wide roads and a lot of jumps; actually, we experience some bigger jumps than we even have in Finland. It is a challenging rally for us, but with the additional insight and advice from Ott, we hope to be fast – just as we have been at many events this season.”

Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (#8 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Home crew aiming for a repeat of last year’s Rally Estonia victory
Looking to build on third place result in Safari Rally Kenya

Tänak said: “Rally Estonia is generally characterised by very fast, smooth flat roads; there are many artificial jumps, too, which gives the event a very high average speed. It is nice to drive at home, and we had a memorable result last year with our first-ever win for Hyundai Motorsport. We remain hopeful that we can fight for a similar result this year, as we know the car can be fast in these conditions. For me, it will be a logistically easy rally with very little travel time to and from the event – which is always nice.”

Crew Notes: Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (#42 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Irish crew head back to the scene of their first Hyundai Motorsport podium finish
First WRC event of the championship since Croatia back in April

Breen said: “Rally Estonia, for me, is one of the rallies I enjoy the most on the calendar. Last year, it presented Paul and me with one of the better moments in our career, when we finished in second place as part of a Hyundai 1-2. I am looking forward to going back there again; it’s an amazing rally with incredibly fast stages and hopefully we will be able to do a similar job this year.”

WRC 2 Overview

Hyundai Motorsport will have two crews competing in the WRC 2 category of Rally Estonia as exciting young talents Oliver Solberg and Jari Huttunen put the Hyundai i20 R5 through its paces on the fast, high-speed gravel roads.

Solberg, alongside co-driver Aaron Johnston, will relish the challenge of an event where he has competed several times in the past, as he looks to build on his blossoming reputation as a star of the future. The crew was victorious in the WRC 3 category in 2020.

Huttunen, together with Mikko Lukka, finished second in WRC 3 in Estonia last year, behind Solberg, and will be aiming to repeat the level of performance that saw them win the WRC 2 round in Sardinia last month. Both crews will be scoring points for Hyundai Motorsport N.

Solberg said: “Estonia is somewhere I already have great memories from. For the last two years I made good results and won the class. I’m really looking forward to challenging for more of the same this time with the Hyundai i20 R5. I really like the roads. In places, they are faster than Finland, but without so many jumps. Last year we did the event a little bit later in the summer, when there was some rain around and that helped the surface for the grip. Being more in the middle of the summer, it could be a bit more loose this time. It’s a great challenge.”

Huttunen said: “I competed in Rally Estonia last year and came second in WRC 3, so I have some quite nice memories from the event. We have prepared for this event carefully with an 80km test, so I hope we can be quick from the start in our Hyundai i20 R5. It was fantastic to win in the WRC 2 class in Sardinia and I am hoping we can bring some of that positivity into Estonia. I think this one will be more difficult for me in comparison, but we’ll do our best to bring home another good result for Hyundai Motorsport N.”

Team Principal Andrea Adamo said: “Oliver and Jari have shown themselves to be incredibly exciting talents. They have really started to feel at home in our Hyundai i20 R5. I am looking forward to see what they can achieve in Estonia, an event where they have both been quick in the past. Both crews have demonstrated their skill behind the wheel of our cars, and a hunger for success; it is inspiring to see the emergence of rising stars on the global stage.”

Weekend at a Glance
Rally Estonia will cover an expanded itinerary compared to its 2020 edition with 24 special stages run over a distance of almost 320km
Starting with the short Tartu test on Thursday evening, action gets properly underway on Friday for the first of two legs in excess of 130km
Two loops of the Arula, Otepää, Kanepi and Kambja tests – each between 12.66km and 18.25km and modified from their 2020 route - are separated by lunchtime service
Saturday’s schedule introduces four new stages following a similar format with Peipsääre – the longest stage of the rally at 23.56km – Mustvee, Raanitsa and Vastsemõisa. The penultimate day with a return to Tartu
Sunday covers six tests at just under 54km with Neeruti, Elva and Tartu vald each run twice, the latter acting as the Power Stage with the usual extra drivers’ and manufacturers’ points up for grabs.

Creighton ready for back-to-back British and World Championship events

Posted: July 9, 2021 7:58 AM

Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy ace William Creighton will contest two events on consecutive weekends as he resumes his Junior British and World Rally Championship campaigns.

Creighton and co-driver Liam Regan will head to this weekend’s Nicky Grist Stages in Wales (10 July) to continue their Junior British Rally Championship assault after winning the opening round at Oulton Park, before heading straight to Estonia for the third round of the FIA Junior World Rally Championship.

The 23-year-old from Moira in Co. Down has enjoyed a buoyant season so far behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta Rally4, securing impressive performances on the world’s stage as well as the UK. Now, Creighton will embark on a busy schedule of events as he contests two events on consecutive weekends and the progressive youngster is eager to make the most from both opportunities.

“I`m very lucky to be able to contest both events and the calendar has worked out well for my plans this year,” said Creighton.

“I have very different goals for each event, but they compliment each other, meaning the seat time I`ll gain at the Nicky Grist Stages will put me in exactly the right frame of mind for Estonia. The rallies are very different in terms of characteristics and length but both are equally as challenging and getting dialed in a few days before an event as big as Estonia is really important; it's is a great way to get `match fit`.

Creighton dominated proceedings at the opening round of the Junior BRC in May and currently leads the points standings as the series makes the switch to gravel. The ‘Grist’ offers world-class stages in Wales and Creighton is eager to get up to speed quickly.

“The focus will of course be on being towards the front of the leader board during the day but it's such a short rally in comparison, it is a sprint style event. The stages are short so it will be a challenge to get into a rhythm but it would be nice to come away from the event still out in front. We are not sure what the next BRC round is that we can contest so we have played our Joker for an additional points opportunity too”.

Creighton will then head straight from the Builth Wells rally base to Estonia for the next counter in the Junior WRC series. After a tricky start to their campaign in Croatia, Portugal offered an insight into his true pace and was lying an impressive second overall on the opening day. However gearbox dramas saw him finish in fifth and the third round of the series in the super-fast and undulating Estonian gravel roads will offer yet another formidable challenge.

“This is probably the toughest event of the season so far,” says Creighton.

“It’s a huge unknown for me and certainly rewards bravery and risk-taking. On our third ever Junior WRC event, it's not always worth taking those risks. The other guys in the series have experience of the event and know exactly how to approach the stages but we will be managing the pace in our own way and setting goals for ourselves each day. Estonia was an event we highlighted as one to consolidate and just get the experience of for the future; that’s still the plan. By the time we head to Ypres in August we should be much more comfortable to push and show our true potential in the car.”

You can follow William's progress throughout his Junior World Rally Championship and British Championship campaign this season by following him on his social media channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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