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Fri 02 Sep 2022

Aava: Virves knows what to do

It’s been 15 years since Urmo Aava was bidding for the FIA Junior WRC crown. Fellow Estonian Robert Virves finds himself in a similar position going into EKO Acropolis Rally Greece.

Everything is still to play for going into next week’s double points fixture, with Virves sitting just a single point adrift of joint leaders Sami Pajari and Jon Armstrong.

Never in the history of Junior WRC has there been an Estonian champion, although Rally Estonia director Aava - a former top-tier driver in his own right - came exceptionally close two years on the bounce. 

Patrik Sandell pipped Aava to the title by just one point in 2006, while an accident at the final round in 2007 saw him forced to settle for second place once again. Aava has been a keen supporter of Virves in recent years but, despite his experience, insists the 22-year-old doesn’t need any advice. 

“Myself and a group of friends have really been keeping an eye on Robert and we’ve been trying to support him on a small scale,” Aava told WRC.com. “I think what he’s doing for Estonia and rallying is really, really important, but I don’t want to put any pressure on him.

“He’s still a young guy and he can still win lots of championships in his career, but if you look at the size of Estonia and the ability to invest in the sport, I think it’s really important for him to get the win to help finance his continuous career. It’s almost critical.

“I am not in a position to give him advice - we are just fans,” he continued. “I have been away from driving for too many years and I haven’t driven a rally car since 2009, so a lot of things have changed. We are discussing from time to time of course, but really on general subjects.”

Virves has faced a season-long battle to secure the financial backing to compete. He remains cool on his Acropolis hopes but admitted the champions’ prize - a WRC2 drive in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2 - would be a huge help. 

“I think that Greece is definitely not going to be the easiest rally for anybody, especially to decide the championship,” said Virves. “Of course, we don’t know what the situation will be, but if we can win then it should make things a lot easier for planning our next steps.”

  • 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.