Thu 01 Sep 2022

Ireland's rally legends get behind Armstrong's title charge

Ireland's rallying icons have showed their support for Jon Armstrong as he bids for the FIA Junior WRC title at EKO Acropolis Rally Greece (8 - 11 September).

The Ulsterman shares the championship lead with Sami Pajari going into next week’s final round thriller and he hosted an event earlier this month to raise funds for his assault on the Lamia-based fixture. 

Several prizes - including a passenger ride in Craig Breen’s M-Sport Ford Puma - were auctioned, with rally legends including Garry Jennings and Andrew Nesbitt also in attendance. 

“The aim was to try to get the budget together for Greece,” explained Armstrong. “It was a really fun event in my hometown and loads of people came along, so it was nice to see so much support for myself and Brian (Hoy, co-driver).

“We had some really famous names on the night. Garry Jennings actually owns the Mayfly pub where we hosted the event and the likes of Alistair Fisher, Rory Kennedy and Gordon Noble were also there.

“Andrew Nesbitt was the auctioneer and that was really, really cool. He was brilliant and probably as good at that as he was behind the wheel! Overall it was a really successful night and just a fun experience for everyone involved.”

With double points on offer in Greece, the championship is all to play for. Although Armstrong and Pajari head up the field, Robert Virves is only one point further back with Lauri Joona also close behind. 

Armstrong found himself in a similar situation last year when Spain hosted the finale, but crashed out of contention on the penultimate day. He believes next week's rough gravel terrain will require quite a different approach. 

“Spain last year was a very different event,” he admitted. “It was probably a bit more straightforward in terms of knowing that you had to go completely flat-out to win the championship.

“Greece is a totally different animal and it’s very difficult to pick a strategy, simply because it’s so rough in places. I think it’s just a matter of trying to focus and not put too much pressure on ourselves.

“We want to enjoy the experience and drive to the best of our ability - that’s all we can do. We’re feeling pretty relaxed and ready to give it our best shot.”

The 2022 FIA Junior WRC Champion will win four prize drives in the 2023 WRC2 series in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2. They will also have the chance to test the car prior to each round while also receiving a full tyre package courtesy of Pirelli.

  • Full coverage from EKO Acropolis Rally Greece will be 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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