Friday | 12 Aug 2022

Latvala and Pajari turn back time with historic outing

Jari-Matti Latvala and Sami Pajari are rolling back the clocks this weekend to contest the Lahti Historic Rally in Finland.

Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal Latvala and FIA Junior WRC leader Pajari will both field iconic historic rally cars at the event, which begins today (Friday) and runs through to Saturday afternoon. 

Pajari will swap his M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally3 for a Group 4-specification Ford Escort RS1800 powered by one of the famous high-revving BDA engines. 

The Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo he piloted at last week’s Secto Rally Finland will be an even further cry from this weekend’s rear-wheel drive machine.

At 20-years-old, the Pajari hadn’t even been born when Ari Vatenen steered a similar car to the 1981 world title. The youngster will be co-driven by Finnish model and radio presenter Janni Hussi, who has never previously read pace notes.

“It’s going to be something very different,” Pajari laughed. “I think this weekend is more about having fun and enjoying the great stages.

Pajari will debut an Escort

“Lahti is really like my home rally and all the stages are very close to my home. It’s like a dream come true to drive it with a Group 4 Escort. 

“Janni has no co-driving experience,” he continued. “They were talking about rallying on the radio show, so I called the studio and said: ‘If you think rallying is so easy, maybe you can join me for one event.' This was the best rally in the calendar to do it, so that’s how it happened.”

Latvala’s Toyota Celica GT-4 benefits from four-wheel drive as well as having much more power with its turbocharged engine.

Latvala built his Celica to period specification in 2016

He competes as much as possible when time allows and will be co-driven by friend and former driver Juho Hänninen, who also works at Toyota Gazoo Racing. 

“I know I have a faster car than Sami, so I think the pressure is on!” Latvala joked. “I was out on the stages in Finland last weekend and when you see the feeling and the atmosphere, it just makes me want to drive myself. 

“Sometimes it’s nice to be able to switch off from work and just jump in the car and enjoy the driving. It kind of motivates me and it gives me more energy,” he added.

Pajari and Latvala will both travel to Ypres Rally Belgium (18 - 21 August) after the event to continue their respective WRC commitments. 

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