WRC ORLEN 80th Rally Poland
Starts: Thursday, June 27, 2024 at 8:00:00 AM
ERC Delfi Rally Estonia
Starts: Friday, July 5, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM
Ferratum World RX of Sweden 1
Starts: Saturday, July 6, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM

Wed 04 May 2022

Joona's Junior hopes lifted by Croatia win

Lauri Joona’s FIA Junior WRC title aspirations have been boosted after his shock victory at the Croatia Rally last month.

The Finn stole a dramatic win in the all-M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally3 category when Sami Pajari and Robert Virves both hit trouble in the closing kilometres. 

Pajari beached his Fiesta in a ditch while leading comfortably on SS18, promoting Virves to the top spot. The Estonian then suffered a 4min time penalty for an early check-in, handing the win to an elated Joona. 

Assessing his first-ever triumph, Joona admitted he was not anticipating to be so successful in Zagreb. 

“I did not believe in any way that I could take victory in Croatia,” he explained. “I’m not a Tarmac specialist, but with conscious driving, everything just went well and I’m really happy for this. 

“It was such a hard rally - the weather changed a lot, and of course the surface also. There was so much dirt on the road, and it was the first time with wet tyres for me so it was a massive challenge. 

“Also, on Saturday, there was some fog on one stage and that was really, really tricky. Overall, it was a very difficult weekend, especially on the wet Tarmac which is not familiar for me,” he added.

The 25-year-old now shares the championship lead with Jon Armstrong, who finished the rally fourth with several problems. 

The pair have a hefty 18 points in hand over third-placed Virves, but with three rounds remaining and dropped scores still to be counted, anything could happen. 

Croatia Rally: Junior WRC Highlights

Junior WRC drivers also receive a single championship point for every stage they win. Joona was fastest on just one of Croatia’s 19 speed tests, prompting him to consider a different approach for Vodafone Rally de Portugal (19 - 22 May).

“For sure, we have a good position now,” mused Joona. “But, as we know, the situation can change so quickly. You really need to drive rally by rally and check the situation after that. 

“Now we have a good chance for the championship, but we don’t have that many stage win points, which are really important for the championship. We need to try our best to catch them in Portugal.”

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