Sunday | 17 Oct 2021

Pajari crowned FIA Junior WRC champion

Sami Pajari made history at Rally RACC - Rally de España by clinching the 2021 FIA Junior WRC title in his M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally4.

At 19 years and 325 days old, Pajari became the youngest and first Finnish driver to take the honours in the championship’s 20-year history. 

Heading into the rally, Pajari, Jon Armstrong and Mārtiņš Sesks each had a realistic chance of glory. 

Armstrong took command on Friday and used his previous Spanish experience to eke out a 15.9sec advantage over Pajari. 

The tables were turned on Saturday morning when the Ulsterman missed a braking point on the very first stage and dropped over five minutes. Any chances of a comeback drive were dashed three stages later when he retired with damaged steering after leaving the road again. 

Pajari additionally claimed his second outright win of the season

Sesks’ dreams were also quashed after he crashed at Querol - Les Pobles and broke a wheel. 

With his championship rivals out of contention, Pajari inherited the lead. He managed his pace over Sunday’s final leg to take the crown whilst also winning the rally by 15.9sec. 

He may choose between driving a Ford Fiesta Rally2 or the Rally3 version next season as part of his exciting prize package.

"I don't know what to say,” he said at the finish. “I feel so thankful for so many people  who made this possible and it’s not only me who deserves it, it's many people around me also."

Lauri Joona was second after an impressive drive. Despite not winning any stages, the 24-year-old piled the pressure on Pajari right to the end and had 34.0sec in hand over Robert Virves. Virves set multiple fastest times, but dropped over a minute on Saturday with a puncture. 

Armstrong restarted on Sunday and ended fourth ahead of Sesks. William Creighton completed the leaderboard after crashing into a barrier on the opening day.

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