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Sun 11 Sep 2022

Virves crowned FIA Junior WRC champion

Robert Virves has become the first-ever Estonian FIA Junior WRC champion after winning the M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally3 category at EKO Acropolis Rally Greece.

What started as a four-way scrap for the title quickly became a two-way fight between Virves and Jon Armstrong when Sami Pajari retired on Friday and Lauri Joona haemorrhaged time with rear suspension damage. 

Virves moved into the top spot early on Friday and found himself over one-minute ahead that evening after Armstrong stopped to change a wheel. His focus then turned to lead preservation - easier said than done on such rough terrain - and the youngster started Sunday’s final leg 53.2sec in the clear. 

Armstrong pulled back a whopping 19.6sec on the opener but was outpaced by the leader on the next stage. He simply ran out of kilometres to catch Virves, who eventually took the spoils by 17.5sec to seal the title.

"I'm really, really happy," said Virves. "I am not really thinking about things like this (being the first Estonian winner). My goal is to become the world champion in the top class one day and this is a small part of it."

Virves’ championship-winning prize includes four drives in the 2023 WRC2 series with an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2. He will also have the chance to test the car prior to each round whilst also receiving a full tyre package courtesy of Pirelli.

William Creighton rounded off the podium -  albeit several minutes behind - ahead of Kenyan driver Mcrae Kimathi. Last year’s champion Pajari finished fifth in the rally while Joona completed the leaderboard. 

Because Virves changed co-drivers mid-way through the season, Armstrong’s partner Brian Hoy wrapped up the co-drivers’ title.