Finland's brightest young rally talent, Juuso Nordgren, will get the opportunity of his life this week when he joins the Junior WRC regulars at Neste Rally Finland.
The 19-year-old was recently named 'Future Rally Star of Finland' by rally promoter AKK Sports and wins a fully-funded WRC drive on his home round of the championship as part of his prize.
Nordgren, (pictured above right with co-driver Mikael Korhonen) will drive the same Citroën DS3 R3T as the rest of the Junior WRC field, a change to the Peugeot 208 VTi R2 he campaigns in the Finnish Championship. In a test on Saturday, he was able to become more familiar with the car and experiment with the set-up.
“We drove about 100 kilometres and everything went really well,” Nordgren said. “We changed the set-up quite a lot and now it feels good for us. The car is now quite comfortable for me.”
“I’m feeling quite open minded,” he added. “It’s my first WRC event and only my sixth rally with pace notes. We’ll try to do our best. It’s a great opportunity and I really want to make use of it."
As the six round Junior WRC reaches its midpoint, Nordgren will go up against eight other drivers hoping to shine on Finland's legendary high-speed stages.
Favourite to do well is Italy's Simone Tempestini who leads the standings with a maximum 50 points after winning the opening two gravel rounds in Portugal and Poland. Terry Folb, a man with the backing of nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb, is also one to watch.
Also in winning contention is Norway's Ole Christian Veiby, who currently lies third in the standings and was a podium finisher in Finland last year. Second in Portugal, Martin Koci failed to start in Poland after crashing in the shakedown and is keen to make amends here.
One notable absentee is Poland's Lukasz Pieniazek who crashed during testing on Monday and put his car beyond repair.