The FIA World Rally Championship’s classic fixture, scheduled for 6 - 9 August, was cancelled due to Covid-19. But two eSports events will feature a quartet of WRC drivers aiming to show their sim driving skills are as hot as their abilities in the forests.
M-Sport Ford’s Esapekka Lappi heads the invited entry list for the Neste Rally Finland eChallenge Shootout, which will be broadcast across three nights this week on the WRC’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Also competing will be Bolivian teenage hotshot Marco Bulacia, who is currently tied at the head of the WRC 3 standings, ex-Formula 1 ace Miko Salo, and two Finnish stars of the future from the Junior WRC, Sami Pajari and Lauri Joona.
Fellow junior driver Raul Badiu, WRC 3 competitor Roland Poom and 18-year-old schoolboy Sami-Matti Trogen, who could upset his better-known rivals in the knockout event, complete the entries. Finnish Championship contender Trogen is also an official driver with the Williams eSport squad.
Trogen faces Badiu in the quarter-finals, while Poom meets Salo, Joona takes on Lappi and Bulacia goes head-to-head with Pajari in the other ties. The action will be broadcast on Thursday (30 July) at 20.00 CET on the WRC Facebook page here and YouTube channel here.
The winners go forward to the semi-finals at 20.00 CET on Friday (31 July), with the final broadcast on Saturday at the same time, featuring Jyväskylä’s Harju street stage and the famous rollercoaster Ouninpohja test.
Lappi will then be joined by M-Sport Ford team-mate Teemu Suninen and Toyota Gazoo Racing drivers Kalle Rovanperä and Takamoto Katsuta in the Neste Rally Finland eChallenge, held in the harbour area of the event’s Jyväskylä service park on 8 August.
Salo will also compete, along with other drivers and Finland’s leading WRC eSports competitors, including Trogen.
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Both competitions will be held on WRC 8, the official game of the FIA World Rally Championship.
Highlights from the Jyväskylä event will be broadcast in Finland by Yle, while live coverage will be streamed on the WRC’s Facebook and YouTube channels.
Fans will be welcome, with the attendance capped at 1000 people in accordance with Covid-19 restrictions.