WRC ORLEN 80th Rally Poland
Starts: Thursday, June 27, 2024 at 8:00:00 AM
ERC Bauhaus Royal Rally of Scandinavia
Starts: Thursday, June 13, 2024 at 12:00:00 PM
Ferratum World RX of Sweden 1
Starts: Saturday, July 6, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM

Wed 09 Mar 2022

Armstrong ‘wasn’t expecting’ Sweden pace

Ulsterman Jon Armstrong surprised himself at the pace he showed at Rally Sweden last month.

The 2021 championship runner-up claimed victory at round one of the FIA Junior WRC following an enthralling battle with Finn Lauri Joona. The pair traded positions throughout the event and just 2.7sec divided them after 17 stages on snow. 

In the weeks leading up to the rally, however, Armstrong’s place on the entry looked in doubt. 

He made it to the start by the skin of his teeth after securing funding at the final hour and teamed up with new co-driver Brian Hoy for the winter fixture. 

The duo didn’t have the luxury of a pre-event test, so Thursday’s shakedown at Klabböle was their only warm-up. 

“To say it was a pretty good week would be an understatement,” smiled Armstrong. “I definitely wasn’t expecting [to win] at the start of the event, but things seemed to go pretty nicely in terms of getting settled in on the snow.”

"Whenever you change your co-driver, there's always going to be quite a big difference in  the dynamic in the car, but Brian and I both come from the same part of Ireland so it's quite easy to get on and understand each other.”

"We both wanted the same goal, which was to get the most out of the week and do our best. I think it all worked pretty likely and I was impressed with how everything went," he added.

A co-driver switch wasn’t the only thing he needed to adapt to. Sweden marked the start of a new era for Junior WRC, with four-wheel drive M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally3 cars replacing the front-wheel powered Fiesta Rally4 used previously. 

Armstrong praised the new car, adding that many techniques learned in front-wheel drive machinery were still very relevant. 

"The jump between a Rally4 and a Rally3 car is not big and that's exactly what it's designed to do,” he explained. “I think you can carry over quite a lot, and for the most part, the driving style isn’t totally different. 

“You find the biggest differences in the slower corners, because you can slide around them and get a nice handbrake turn, but ultimately, I think anything you learn in the front-wheel drive car can certainly be brought across. 

“The only thing that was different is that four-wheel drive can maybe pull you out of situations a bit quicker, so you can actually push a bit more.”

Round two of the Junior WRC takes crews to the asphalt of the Croatia Rally (21 - 24 April). The Zagreb-based counter holds strong memories for Armstrong as he claimed his maiden victory there last year. 

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