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Fri 20 May 2022

Pajari tops Junior WRC after day of survival

Sami Pajari is heading towards his first FIA Junior WRC win of the season after surviving Friday’s deadly stages at Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

Pajari grabbed an early lead after edging Jon Armstrong on Thursday evening’s Coimbra super special, but dropped behind the Ulsterman on Friday’s opener. 

The Finn then lost over two minutes with a puncture at Góis and trailed Armstrong by 1min 32.7sec at the midday tyre fitting zone. 

Armstrong later retired from the huge lead when a rear suspension arm sheared on his M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally3, promoting Pajari back in front by a huge margin. 

He went on to win each remaining stage before rounding out the leg 3min 38.5sec clear at the top. 

Croatia Rally winner Lauri Joona was Pajari’s nearest challenger. The Finn could well have been leading were it not for a problem on SS7 which cost 2min 44.4sec. 

Robert Virves was the only other finisher. He ended a hefty 15min 22sec back from the lead due to a puncture followed by an engine control unit issue on SS6. 

William Creighton’s day came to an early end when he ran out of spare wheels, while Mcrae Kimathi crashed out at Mortágua.

  • Full coverage from Vodafone Rally de Portugal is available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.
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