Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas today (Friday) gave his formal support to WRC Promoter’s plans for a major promotional event focused around the country’s biggest rally.
Minister of Culture Indrek Saar signed an agreement in Tallinn with WRC Promoter, Rally Estonia and the Estonian Autosport Union to back the popular rally, which will become an Official WRC Promotional Event.
Mr Ratas (above left) later met WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla (above right) to endorse the new venture in a country which is one of the championship’s fan hotspots.
The WRC’s stars and their spectacular new-generation World Rally Cars will feature in the three-day rally (12 - 14 July) in southern Estonia.
Each of the championship’s four registered manufacturers will be invited to enter a car as part of their preparations for Neste Rally Finland (1 - 4 August), a short distance across the Baltic Sea, three weeks later.
Home hero Ott Tanak won last year’s Shell Helix Rally Estonia and his emergence as one of the WRC’s 2019 title favourites has boosted the series’ popularity there. Huge numbers of fans are expected to journey to Finland to support him.
His Toyota Gazoo Racing team now splits its operations between its main base in Finland and a new workshop in Tallinn, where the Yaris World Rally Cars are rebuilt after each rally.
Fans follow Tänak’s fortunes closely on television in Estonia where Postimees Group and ERR (Estonian Public Broadcasting) screen WRC.
Combined audiences for Sunday’s rally-ending Power Stages are regularly well in excess of 100,000 in a country of 1.3million people, reaching about 80 per cent of the sports viewership.
Almost 40,000 fans attended last year’s Rally Estonia and Ciesla said the new partnership would increase that figure and raise the WRC’s profile even further.
“Ott Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja are two of Estonia’s best-known sportsmen and fans carrying the country’s distinctive black, blue and white flag are a popular sight in special stages and at service parks across the globe these days.
“Fans and media in Estonia follow WRC with huge enthusiasm and we appreciate the opportunity to be represented at a local event there. Rally Estonia is not a championship round, but the chance for fans to get a flavour of the WRC on home territory will generate big excitement.
“We appreciate the great support from the Estonian Government, the Estonian Autosport Union and Rally Estonia to make this event happen,” Ciesla added.
Rally director Urmo Aava plans to bring drivers from several WRC classes to the event.
“Signing this document and starting work to provide a perfect Official WRC Promotional Event is an honour for the whole of our team, which has sacrificed eight years of their life for that.
“It shows we have been doing things the right way. We have made an impression on the Estonian Government, WRC Promoter, FIA, WRC teams, our sponsors and all the rally fans in our region,” said Aava.