Fri 06 May 2022

Cash-strapped Virves vows to overcome financial struggles

Robert Virves remains focused on staying in the FIA Junior WRC title fight despite facing financial challenges so far this season.

Virves suffered last-minute trauma at last month’s Croatia Rally when a four-minute time penalty cost him a maiden victory in the hotly-contested Junior WRC category. 

He eventually finished second in the Zagreb-based fixture, but later revealed to WRC.com that money troubles did - and continue to - hold him back. 

“It's something you have to live with," the Estonian said briefly of his Croatia heartbreak. “There's nothing I can really do about it apart from work hard towards the next rally.  

“I am working basically alone to find the budget, so only my brother is helping me with some things. I would say it's far from easy and it's really, really stressing me out because I am not concentrating on what I should be concentrating on.

“For example, in Croatia during the first day of recce, I didn't even know if I would have the budget to start the rally. I got my budget filled on Wednesday and the next morning it was already shakedown.

"I can't thank enough my sponsors, especially Estonian businessman Jüri Käo who has made it possible for me to start the first two rallies of the season," he added.  

On top of the additional stress between rallies, the 21-year-old also explained how he has been forced to adopt a more reserved driving style in his M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally3 for fear of going off the road and incurring further costs. 

“I would say I'm not really able to concentrate on the things that I should be,” he continued. “You want to be fast on the stages, but at the same time, you know that you are holding back a bit. 

“My main thing is all the time thinking about the getting the budget and at the same time wondering if I will be able to start the rally until a few days before the event. You can't do it like this.”

Virves’ silver lining is his championship position of third with three rounds to go. But he faces a race against time to find backing for Vodafone Rally de Portugal later this month (19 - 22 May). 

“In terms of our championship position, it's not so bad right now. I'm trying to find the budget to be able to do it, so I hope it's going to work out,” he said. 

I would say that finding the sponsors is getting more and more difficult in Estonia, so it's a real challenge.”

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