Finland rookie Jan Solans is determined to overcome his lack of experience there and protect his FIA Junior WRC Championship lead this week.
He carries a nine-point lead into the penultimate round at Neste Rally Finland (1 - 4 August) after victory last time out in Italy, but must come to terms with the demanding high-speed Scandinavian speed tests on his debut there.
“It is a rally that is usually difficult when you participate for the first time. Right now, I’m the leader of the championship and if I want to win, I need to get a good result here,” said Solans, who faces the biggest Junior entry of the season. All will be driving Ford Fiesta R2 cars.
The leading trio are blanketed by just 15 points, but 142 remain up for grabs with October’s final round at Wales Rally GB offering double scores.
Solans’ haul includes 19 bonus points from stage victories. It is a total matched only by Dennis Rådström, who trails Solans by 15 points in third after chasing the Spaniard home in Italy last month.
The Swede is one of just four Juniors who has faced Finland’s high-speed gravel roads and jumps before. He is focused on maintaining a charge up the championship standings after crashing out of his home event when holding a commanding lead.
“Rally Finland feels like a second-home event for us, it’s a legendary event that we already had a taste of twice before.
“Fast, flowing and tricky stages: this is something we are really looking forward to. We are aiming to keep climbing on the podium as we have done since our crash at home in Sweden,” explained Rådström.
Solans and Rådström sandwich Tom Kristensson, whose consistency means he is the only driver to finish on the podium at all three rounds.
The Junior regulars are joined by two Finnish hot-shots bidding to make a mark at their home event. AKK Flying Finn Future Star award winner Sami Pajari makes his WRC debut and is joined by.
“It’s a dream come true for me to compete in this event,” said Pajari. “The main goal for the rally is to get as much experience as possible. It would be nice to drive carefully to finish and at the same time improve my pace stage by stage. For sure it will be a huge challenge but I’m but really looking forward to it.”
Learn more about the Junior WRC with all the latest news and an in-depth interview with Kristensson on our special podcast here.