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Rally Estonia WRC - 4-6 Sep 20

Posted: September 3, 2020 4:52 PM - 2295 Hits

Counting Round - 2020 World Rally Championship

Live Results (Estonia 2020) 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 Fri - 07:01
SS1 Fri - 17:08
SS2 Sat - 05:40
SS12 Sun - 05:35

Hyundai Motorsport Preview: Round 4 – Rally Estonia

Posted: September 1, 2020 7:06 AM

The FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) returns to action next week following an enforced six-month pause with a brand-new event, Rally Estonia, joining a revised 2020 calendar.

Hyundai Motorsport will field a three-car entry into the rally - round four of the season - with Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul, Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja and Craig Breen/Paul Nagle competing in the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.

The team is eager to resume its championship defence following mixed fortunes in the opening three rounds earlier in the year. Victory in Monte-Carlo was followed by consecutive podiums in Sweden and Mexico before the global pandemic put a stop to international motorsport.

Heading to Estonia, which will represent familiar territory for local crew Tänak and Järveoja, the team holds second place in the manufacturers’ standings on 89 points. Two consecutive second places for the crew, in their first season with Hyundai Motorsport, sees Tänak hold fifth place in the drivers’ classification. Monte-Carlo winner Neuville, meanwhile, lies in third place but the Belgian is ready to mount a fightback on Estonian gravel stages, which he last contested in 2012.

Breen will compete in his second WRC event of the season, having joined the team at Rally Sweden back in February. The Irishman is well acquainted with the Estonian roads from four previous events in the country.

First held in 2010, Rally Estonia has become popular in recent years with local fans and for teams looking to prepare for WRC’s Rally Finland. Its position as a WRC event in 2020 will offer crews a high-speed gravel challenge to kick-start the second part of the interrupted season.

Said to be the biggest motorsport event in the Baltics, Rally Estonia will mark the fastest rally on the calendar in lieu of Finland. Smooth and technical gravel roads feature plenty of jumps and crests to keep crews alert and will demand exact precision from pace notes. The most iconic of these is Otepää’s (9.60km) Alaküla jump.

The rally will be intensive, held over a shortened three-day itinerary. After a ceremonial start and the Tartu stage (1.28km) on Friday, Saturday will see crews cover over half of the rally’s distance with ten stages on the itinerary. The event comes to a close with a compact schedule on Sunday with three stages each run twice, culminating in the traditional Power Stage.

All three Hyundai Motorsport crews have tested in Finland and Estonia recently, including an outing at the L?una-Eesti Rally for Tänak and Neuville.

Team Principal Andrea Adamo said: “It’s quite a special moment to come back to WRC events after so much time away. It is clear the situation is different from where we left things in Mexico. I hope that things will stay in a reasonable way for everyone and we will all be able to enjoy the fight that I’m sure we are going to see at Rally Estonia. Like others, we have worked during this period to try to catch-up and improve the things we were missing before. We have to enjoy and make the most of the rallies between now and the end of the season and see what happens.”

Crew Notes: Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (#11 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Belgians competed in 2012 edition of Rally Estonia
Neuville lies third in drivers’ standings after opening three events

Neuville said: “With the restart of the season, I think we all have hopes for a good result. After such a long break we want to come back and immediately deliver a strong performance. Rally Estonia is a new event and I did compete there back in 2012 but obviously the roads have changed a lot. It will be a challenging rally but with Ott and Martin as our teammates, I’m hoping we’re going to get a little advantage over the other teams.”

Crew Notes: Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (#8 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Estonians looking for a third podium this season and first victory for Hyundai Motorsport
Home heroes have dominated previous two editions of Rally Estonia

Tänak said: “Of course it’s nice to be back in the championship again. Having the first event back in Estonia is special for us. It’s a big thing for Estonia to run a WRC event. I really hope we have a home advantage and it’s most important we really use it. The target is very easy; we don’t know how long the season will be but for sure we have to take the maximum from every event now. It will be a short sprint so there is no way to hold back anymore.”

Crew Notes: Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (#42 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)
Irish crew return to Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC for second event in 2020
Previous Estonia experience will help the pair to hit the ground running

Breen said: “I’m really looking forward to Rally Estonia. It’s an event where I have quite a bit of experience in comparison to other crews. This year will be my fifth time going there and I am definitely looking forward to being back in a WRC car again after this strange and long period without anything. I was fortunate enough to be back in competition soon after lockdown was lifted and already in June we were testing. This restart period has been quite busy; it’s great to get back to competing and some form of normality. I think we can perform well in Estonia, as fast rallies generally seem to suit us, so we’ll be aiming for some good results there.”

WRC 2 overview

Rally Estonia will also see the Hyundai i20 R5 return to WRC 2 duties in the hands of Ole Christian Veiby and Nikolay Gryazin. Both drivers showed gradual improvements in performance in the opening rounds of the season, culminating in a season-best at Mexico. However, they will be hoping to demonstrate further advances in Estonia.

Veiby will continue to be co-driven by Jonas Andersson, while Gryazin will share the car with newcomer Konstantin Aleksandrov. Both crews have competed in local rallies to get acquainted with the Hyundai i20 R5, working together with RedGrey Team, so they will be raring to go by Friday’s opening stage.

Veiby said: “It’s been really good to be able to compete at two rallies before we start this one. For the Italian rally it was good to be in competition mode again. South Estonia Rally was perfect for both competition and to get used to the feeling of speed again. We also had two good test days before the rally, so a lot of important mileage in the car. I’m really looking forward to kicking off the WRC2 campaign again with Rally Estonia; it’s been a while since the last one! With the good preparations we had, we are aiming for a podium and it should be possible to fight for victory there.”

Gryazin said: “Rally Estonia is one of the most exciting rallies in the Baltic countries. The roads are fast like Finland, but the surface is sandier so we will get some awesome drifts, as well as some big jumps. It will be my second time here in an R5 car, so I am hoping to do well. My new co-driver Konstantin is doing great; he just started professional co-driving. He is brave and working hard to be precise. We took part in the recent Louna Eesti rally, which went well with RedGrey, as we worked mainly on car set-up to prepare for the WRC round. My main target is to continue my learning and to get a good result for Hyundai. I also have a fast and experienced teammate which is also very helpful.”

Weekend at a Glance

The 33rd country to hold a WRC event, Rally Estonia will consist of 17 stages over a distance of 232.64km
Proceedings begin on Friday with a ceremonial start and a sprint of Tartu (1.28km) next to the Raadi service park
Saturday will see over half of the rally’s competitive distance covered with five stages repeated, starting with the longest stage of the event Prangli (20.23km) followed by Kanepi (16.89km), Otepää (9.6km), Mäeküla (14.76km) and Elva (11.72km)
Sunday’s schedule covers three stages Arula (6.97km), Kaagvere (15.46km) and Kambja (20.05km), each run twice with the second pass of Kambja acting as the rally’s Power Stage.


Posted: September 1, 2020 7:05 AM

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs will be back in action this week as the FIA World Rally Championship resumes at Rally Estonia – almost six months after the global pandemic brought world sport to a standstill.

Hosting the return of top-flight rallying, the Estonian fixture has been organised in line with new guidelines set out by the FIA and Estonian Government, and strict protocols to ensure a safe and successful return include mandatory testing, the use of face coverings, social distancing and the creation of groups to minimise the potential risk.

As a new event in a new-look 2020 calendar, Estonia becomes the 33rd country to host a round of the FIA World Rally Championship and is famed for its blisteringly-fast, high-speed, stages. Estonians have a love for rallying and the gravel stages are not unfamiliar to the top teams – all of which attended a WRC Promotional event in Estonia last year.

Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:
“It’s great to be going rallying again. I have certainly missed the action – so much so that I got behind the wheel myself on the M-Sport Return to Rally Stages in Greystoke last week. It was good fun and I didn’t embarrass myself, but not in the same league as these guys and I think we’re all looking forward to seeing them blasting through the forests once more.

“This rally is going to be the blueprint for all future FIA World Rally Championship events, and I have to say that the organisers have done a fantastic job in ensuring its safe and successful running. Everything has been considered and planned, and it’s thanks to the hard work of so many behind the scenes that we’re able to get this fantastic sport back up and running.

“Realistically of course, we know that we’re not in the same position as the others teams. With no competition for almost six months, we’ve been hit particularly hard by the global pandemic and had to re-evaluate a lot of what we do. We’ve not had the luxury of testing, but all three crews have had at least some seat time and I know they’re looking forward to being back in action.”

Having finished on the podium at Estonia’s WRC Promotional event last year, Esapekka Lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm have experience of the Estonian stages which are not too dissimilar from those in their native Finland.

Contesting Lõuna-Eesti Ralli with JanPro Racing’s EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC earlier this month, Lappi had an opportunity to get up to speed with the top-specification Fiesta and will be looking to build on that this week.

Esapekka Lappi said:
“It’s been a long time away from the action, so I’m really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel. I was at Estonia’s WRC Promotional event last year and the stages are really nice. They’re quite similar to Finland in some ways, and even faster in some places so the pace is going to be pretty much flat out!

“We know that we’re not in the same position as the other teams and we’ve not had the opportunity to do the same level of testing, but I did manage to drive Lõuna-Eesti Ralli which was really good fun. It was important to get that seat time, and our main objective next week will be to get back out there, get back up to speed, and enjoy rallying again.”

Teemu Suninen had success in simulator racing during lockdown, but the young Finn is ready to get back behind the wheel of the rally car now. And having recently moved to Estonia, this will be something of a home event for the young Finn.

Contesting Lõuna-Eesti Ralli with a Ford Fiesta R5 earlier this month, Suninen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen also had a day testing the Fiesta WRC in Greystoke. Staying in Cumbria after the test, they joined the thousands of Brits enjoying a ‘staycation’ in the English Lake District National Park and were shown the sights by Team Principal, Richard Millener.

Teemu Suninen said:
“I did some simulator racing during lockdown, but I’m definitely ready to get back behind the wheel of the rally car now! It’s been a long time, and I’m really looking forward to Rally Estonia which will be a bit like a home rally for me now!

“We’ve not had a lot of seat time, but I drove Lõuna-Eesti Ralli with a Fiesta R5. That was quite a special rally for me as I organised everything myself – and it made my appreciate how much the team do for us on WRC events as there really is so much you have to think about.

“We also had a day testing the Fiesta WRC in Greystoke. The stages in Estonia are really fast so it was important to have that day getting back up to speed. And we stayed in Cumbria a few days afterwards too – exploring the Lake District with Rich and catching up with some of the guys before we head out to the rally.”

Gus Greensmith and Elliott Edmondson will experience the Rally Estonia stages for the first time this week as they continue their first full season with the top-specification Fiesta.

Getting back up to speed following the six-month break, the young Brits had two days putting the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC through its paces in Greystoke forest, and will focus on building their speed throughout the event.

Gus Greensmith said:
“I cannot wait to get back behind the wheel of the Fiesta WRC! We had a couple of days testing in Greystoke last week and I’d forgotten just how much I enjoy pushing the loud pedal in this car!

“We know that we’ve not had the same amount of seat time as some of the other guys, but this is still a learning year for me and the most important thing is to go out there and enjoy it.

“This will be my first time in Estonia and I’ve heard that the stages are incredible. I’m looking forward to experiencing them for myself, and will just aim to focus on my own event – and on learning and improving my times as the weekend goes on.”

Adrien Fourmaux and Renaud Jamoul have been racking up the seat time with the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta Rally2 and most recently contested the M-Sport Return to Rally Stages followed by Rallye Terre de Lozère in Fourmaux’s native France.

Leading the latter on Saturday evening, the pairing became victims of their own success – opening the road through the final gravel stages and missing out on victory by just a couple of seconds. But the seat time will hold the pairing in good stead as they return to contest the WRC 2 category at this weekend’s Rally Estonia.

No stranger to the Estonian stages, Fourmaux contested the event with a Ford Fiesta R2T19 last year and more than held his own against the locals – building up to stage-winning pace and securing a competitive third in class.

Adrien Fourmaux said:
“We’ve had a busy few weeks and now I’m really looking forward to being back in the FIA World Rally Championship. We’ve been lucky to do quite a few events recently, so I’ve seen how different countries and championships have adapted to the new rules – and everywhere people have been safe and happy to see the rally cars back in action, as are we!

“I drove the Fiesta R2T19 at Rally Estonia last year so I have some knowledge of the stages – which are really fast and incredible to drive. It’s pretty much flat-out, but there are also some trickier sections where you also have to be really precise. The competition will be strong, but I’m looking forward to it and hope to deliver another good result.”

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing keen to resume winning ways as WRC restarts

Posted: September 1, 2020 7:03 AM

The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team will look to pick up where it left off when the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship resumes at Rally Estonia on September 4-6. The team currently leads the manufacturers’ standings by 21 points, while Sébastien Ogier heads the drivers’ championship with Elfyn Evans second and Kalle Rovanperä fourth. All three drivers made great starts to their debut seasons in the Toyota Yaris WRC at the beginning of this year, with wins for Evans in Sweden and Ogier in Mexico before the season was interrupted because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Rally Estonia is a new addition on the revised 2020 calendar, which allows the season to restart in a safe and responsible way with strict protocols in place to protect everybody involved. This will be the first time that Rally Estonia has ever been part of the WRC, although all of the manufacturer teams fielded cars at last year’s promotional event. It takes place over fast and smooth gravel roads with many crests and jumps. Since restrictions were eased, the team has prepared for the restart with testing in both Finland and Estonia, which included taking part in the South Estonia Rally last weekend.

The event will run to a condensed itinerary with most of the stages taking place on Saturday and Sunday and a total of 232.64 competitive kilometres. The rally is based in Tartu, Estonia’s second-largest city, where it will begin with a short opening stage on Friday evening close to the service park at the Raadi airfield. Saturday will consist of 10 stages in total, with a loop of five tests run in the morning and then repeated following mid-day service. Sunday features three stages each run twice without service inbetween.

Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“It is great that we can finally go rallying again, especially for our fans and our partners who have been waiting for this moment. Hopefully we can bring some enjoyment to people in such a difficult period. It feels like a long time ago now, but the beginning of the season was very positive for us and we hope to continue like this. Our drivers are not so familiar with the Estonian stages, but we know that the roads there are fast and this suits our car well. I think that we have prepared as well as we can over the past weeks and I hope that we can compete for the top positions.”

Sébastien Ogier/ Julien Ingrassia
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17)
“I’m happy that we are able to compete again after so long. Rally Estonia will be new for many of us, but I’m always excited to take on a different challenge. It’s certainly going to be a demanding rally with very fast roads. The Yaris WRC gives you good confidence at these speeds and after the testing we have done in Finland and in Estonia, I have a good feeling in the car. It was also important to have this event last week to help us prepare, because after such a long break it is not easy to find the limit straight away. We will be starting first on the road so we hope that the weather in September could maybe help us to not have too much of a disadvantage, and the target will be to try to fight as best as we can.”

Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“It has been a long time since we have driven competitively. It’s been eased by the fact that we could at least do some testing and get back behind the wheel but there’s nothing like competition. Rally Estonia is new to the WRC and I was lucky enough to be there for last year’s event. Although the rally didn’t end so well for me, I did enjoy it and I know a little bit about what to expect. The roads are very, very fast: Similar to Finland in some ways but with a few less jumps, and even faster in some places. As I’ve seen from the testing we’ve done, the car feels strong on these high-speed gravel roads. We’re definitely hoping that we have a good package and hopefully we can get the most out of it.”

Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“The roads in Estonia are really fast and flowing but there are also some narrow and technical sections, so it’s going to be a really tricky rally. You have to be flat out most of the time but then you also have places where you need to be really precise. After the long break, it won’t be so easy to be up to speed in the beginning, but we have had some good testing to help us to be ready. We have been driving in some different weather conditions which has been useful experience for me. I have still only done three WRC rallies in this car and I still need to continue learning over the rest of the season, but this is a rally that should be good for me and I’m hoping for a good result.”

Entry List

Posted: August 17, 2020 3:15 PM

Newcomer Estonia hosts 2020 WRC restart in September

Posted: July 2, 2020 11:28 AM

Estonia will host the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time in September when the 2020 series restarts following an enforced break due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rally Estonia (4 - 6 September) joins the fixture list after running as a WRC Promotional Event in 2019. The country will become the 33rd nation to stage a championship round since the series started in 1973.

In a revised calendar announced by WRC Promoter, Rally Italia Sardegna moves to 29 October - 1 November after being postponed in June as the virus temporarily halted the championship after three rounds.

Estonia’s gravel road encounter precedes scheduled events in Turkey (24 - 27 September) and Germany (15 - 18 October) in the new schedule. Next up is Italy, before the season-closing return of Japan (19 - 22 November), whose date also remains unchanged.

The championship will comprise at least eight events and WRC Promoter will continue its already advanced talks with Ypres Rally (2 - 4 October), with the aim of presenting Belgium as another available host country shortly. Talks with the Croatian Automobile & Karting Federation will also move forward.

Rally Argentina, which was postponed from its original date in April, and which traditionally attracts almost a million fans to Cordoba province, has unfortunately now been cancelled for the season.

Estonia’s WRC debut was announced at a press conference in Tallinn today (Thursday) attended by Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla.

It will ensure an emotional weekend for reigning world champion Ott Tänak, who will have the opportunity to compete in front of his home fans on a WRC round for the first time.

Rally Estonia will be a short format event comprising two legs on Saturday and Sunday after a shakedown and opening ceremony on Friday. It will be based in Tartu, in the east of the country, with the service park at the Estonian National Museum. Full details will be announced shortly.

Rally Italia Sardegna’s switch from Europe’s early summer to autumn means crews will face cooler conditions on tough gravel tracks in the north of the Mediterranean island. It will be based in Alghero and details of the itinerary will be confirmed soon.

WRC successfully completed the first three rounds in Monte-Carlo, Sweden and Mexico before Coronavirus put the brakes on the series. Six-time champion Sébastien Ogier leads the drivers’ standings with his Toyota Gazoo Racing squad topping the manufacturers’ points.

WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla said a September restart allowed sufficient lead time for event organisers and competitors to be fully prepared.

“Today’s restart announcement sends a clear signal that the 2020 WRC is back in business,” he said.

“WRC Promoter has worked tirelessly with the FIA, our competitors, teams and potential rallies, in exceptional circumstances, to revise the calendar. Today’s news allows the WRC to restart at an appropriate time and ensure a season worthy of world championship status.

“Fans demonstrate huge passion for WRC in both Estonia and Italy. The expectation there, and across the sport in general, will build rapidly from now ahead of September’s championship restart,” added Ciesla.

FIA rally director Yves Matton said: “I am pleased to announce the 2020 WRC restart calendar following a few months of discussions that have required a great deal of flexibility from all stakeholders in unprecedented times.

“In light of this revised schedule, I am confident we will secure a minimum of eight events this year and this is thanks to the great commitment and work from organisers.

“As one of the newly proposed rounds, Rally Estonia will be reopening the season in September and I know the Estonian Autosport Union and organising team are putting all their efforts to deliver an event to world championship standards from an already solid foundation.

“Also, extensive work was made with ACI and organisers of Rally Italia Sardegna to reschedule the event and I am happy that they could find a workable slot at the end of October for this much-awaited encounter.

“Preparations for these rounds are now in full swing while paying the greatest attention to key planning recommendations for mass gatherings in the current Covid-19 context.

“We are naturally truly disappointed we couldn’t find a logistically viable solution to reschedule Rally Argentina, particularly given all the hard work undertaken by Automóvil Club Argentino and every member of the organisation,” concluded Matton.

All remaining events are eligible for competitors in the WRC 2 and WRC 3 support categories. Future dates for the FIA Junior WRC Championship will be announced separately.

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Posted: April 22, 2020 3:58 PM

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