Sat 16 Jul 2022

Junior leader Pajari overcomes technical scare

Flying Finn Sami Pajari held onto his FIA Junior WRC lead at Rally Estonia despite nursing a technical fault on Saturday afternoon.

Pajari carried a huge 56.0sec advantage into the penultimate day and, while the Finn kept a keen eye on his mirrors, he could afford to give away small pockets of time while not taking any big risks.

His calm approach worked well over the morning loop but a rear differential fault reared its head in the afternoon’s opener and threatened to break Pajari’s stride.

It left the 20-year-old struggling in tight junctions on the rutted second pass of the stages and by the end of the day his gap over second-placed Jon Armstrong had been almost halved to 31.1sec.

“The morning was quite okay, but in the afternoon loop on the first stage we found ourselves in trouble,” said Pajari.

“It was an issue with the handbrake,” he continued. “Basically, it was not disengaging the rear differential. There are a lot of junctions and we were probably losing 0.5sec at each one of them.”

“It was not so easy and it was slowing us down a bit,” he continued. “I am just happy to be here and tomorrow the game is on.”

Robert Virves was a man on a mission, winning seven of the day’s nine superfast speed tests. Suspension troubles hampered the home hero on Friday but he clawed back over half a minute to complete the podium 13.6sec behind Armstrong.

Video: Rally Estonia - FIA Junior WRC highlights

While many drivers upped the tempo, Lauri Joona’s pace went in the wrong direction. He dropped from second to fourth and ended 17.8sec behind Armstrong, with William Creighton another 1min 29.3sec down.

Kenyan driver Mcrae Kimathi brought up the rear of the leaderboard on a day which the entire M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally3 field managed to finish.

• 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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