Tuesday | 12 Oct 2021

Spain hosts thrilling three-way Junior finale

Six drivers start this week’s Rally RACC - Rally de España (14 - 17 October) - but only one can become the 2021 FIA Junior WRC champion.

Six drivers have entered the final round in identical M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally4 cars. They all have a mathematical chance of glory, although only three are in with a realistic shot. They are Sami Pajari, Jon Armstrong and Mārtiņš Sesks. 

Just 14 points separate the hopefuls before dropped scores are taken into account and, with 2x bonus points up for grabs, it’s all to play for. 

Pajari leads the championship by three points after racking up a sixth, two seconds and one win so far. He has never competed in Spain before but previously netted plenty of fastest times on similar terrain in Croatia and Belgium. 

“We have had two days of testing with the proper car and I think now it's only up to me," Pajari explained. 

"I have done many Tarmac rallies already and my confidence on Tarmac has been rising, so I hope I'm also able to enjoy it. I think you can make the best results when you're enjoying it.”

Pajari is confident after a two-day test

Ulsterman Armstrong can count on local knowledge having contested the Salou-based counter three times from 2015 to 2017. 

Despite the advantage, he admitted that the focus remains on a strong result at the end of the weekend rather than individual bonus points for each stage win. 

“I think the rally positions are more important than stage wins on the event,” mused the 26-year-old.  “Being in the fight for the win will be important and I think we can figure out what to do after the first couple of stages.  

“I think we've shown our speed has been good on each rally and we just need to keep working hard and hope that it'll be a similar case in Spain,” he added. 

Latvian star Sesks is also capable of clinching the title. He's eager to make amends after crashing out of the 2020 finale at ACI Rally Monza. 

Armstrong has previous Spain experience

"This year it's a little bit different. We are now third in the championship but still in as good a position as we were last year to win the championship," said Sesks.

"I feel no pressure on myself at all. We have done three seasons in the WRC now and we have nothing to lose."

Whoever is crowned FIA Junior WRC champion will be able to choose between driving a Ford Fiesta Rally2 or the Rally3 version next season in an exciting new-look prize package.

The long-standing top prize of the keys to a brand-new M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2, 200 Pirelli tyres, free registration for the 2022 WRC3 and free entries for five WRC rounds will be retained, on condition of the champion competing in a minimum of five WRC events.

An alternative prize will offer fully funded drives in a four-wheel drive M-Sport Poland-built Fiesta Rally3 on five selected WRC rallies in 2022, including registration for WRC’s Rally3 category championship.

Sesks has 'nothing to lose'

Other entries include Lauri Joona, who finished third on his WRC3 debut at Secto Automotive Rally Finland earlier this month, as well as Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy youngster William Creighton. 

Robert Virves rounds out the field after finishing third last time out at Renties Ypres Rally Belgium. 

  • Full coverage from the RallyRACC - Rally de España will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.

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