Fri 15 Jul 2022

Pajari builds huge Junior WRC lead

Reigning FIA Junior WRC champion Sami Pajari opened up a hefty lead at Rally Estonia as local ace Robert Virves nursed car troubles on Friday.

Pajari and Virves were the stand-out performers in the one-make M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally3 class as the pair battled it out on high-speed gravel roads around Tartu. 

Virves was initially the man to beat and won three out of four stages in the morning, although Pajari was never far behind. He ramped up the pressure over the second loop and pinched the lead with a huge time on Peipsiääre 2. 

Worse was to come for Virves. He bent the suspension on the penultimate test and plummeted to fourth overall, dropping over 1min 30sec as he nursed the car to the finish. 

The issue promoted Lauri Joona - who dropped time with a puncture on SS2 - into the runners-up spot and left Pajari 56.0sec clear at the top.

“I really enjoyed the battle with Robert,” beamed Pajari. “It’s a shame about what happened to him, but obviously we have a big lead now. There is still a long way to go and we can’t take anything for granted.”

Jon Armstrong completed the leading trio 7.2sec behind Joona. He worked hard to find a good set-up for deep ruts on the second pass and arrived to service 31.3sec in front of Virves. William Creighton was fifth, another 21.1sec back.

Kenyan driver Mcrae Kimathi rounded out the leaderboard as all six crews made it through the day. 

• Full coverage from Rally Estonia 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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