Tuesday | 10 May 2022

Pajari steps up to WRC2 Fabia in Italy

Reigning FIA Junior WRC champion Sami Pajari will make his WRC2 debut at next month’s Rally Italia Sardegna (2 - 5 June).

The 20-year-old Finn will drive a Škoda Fabia Rally2 from the world title-winning Toksport squad in the first of a series of outings in the FIA World Rally Championship’s premier support category.

After winning last year’s junior crown, Pajari opted not to accept the prize of a step-up to WRC2. He chose instead to gain another year’s experience at junior level as the series switched from two-wheel drive Ford Fiestas to M-Sport Poland’s four-wheel drive Rally3 version.

Sardinia’s tough gravel tracks will be the first international outing for Pajari in a Rally2 category car. He drove an older Fiesta R5 to fourth place at the Auto Sorsa Riihumäki-Rally in his home country in February. 

“I have not placed a specific target for the result, the main thing is to see my pace getting better and gain more experience throughout the event,” Pajari explained.

“However, we do try to set a few good stage times at some point. We get the first access to the car on Monday of the rally week when we head out to do some proper testing. 

“We are planning for some more Rally2 events later in the season, but those plans are not quite set in stone yet.” 

Before Italy, Pajari will return to the FIA Junior WRC for the third round at Vodafone Rally de Portugal (19 - 22 May), where he will also defend his lead in WRC3, which runs alongside the junior series.

The Finn's Croatia Rally ended in heartbreak

Fuel pump problems in Sweden coupled with a crash in Croatia mean he currently trails points leaders Lauri Joona and Jon Armstrong by 22 points. In spite of that, the youngster remains optimistic about his championship hopes.  

"To be honest, we are not actually too far from the top [of the championship]," he explained. We have three rounds left and then we have extra points available on the last round. 

"I think if we can stay close enough, then the final round will probably make all the difference anyway. I don't think anything will be clear before the last rally because there are many things that can happen.”