Fri 11 Nov 2022

Kajto crash puts Lindholm in boxseat for WRC2 title

Emil Lindholm has one hand firmly on the WRC2 Championship crown following the demise of title rival Kajetan Kajetanowicz on a reduced Friday programme at FORUM8 Rally Japan.

The Toksport WRT driver took a significant step towards claiming the 2022 title after Kajetanowicz slammed out of contention on Friday morning’s opening test, losing control as he exited a tunnel which resulted in the car’s rear left corner clipping a lamp post.

His Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo suffered significant chassis damage and returned to the Toyota City service park on the back of a truck. He will not restart on Saturday.

“Unfortunately, these are rallies, I think we will try next time. Forgive me for this. We ran out of luck. We are a bit battered, but healthy,” lamented the Polish driver.

Kajetanowicz’s crash came just moments before the stage was red flagged as Dani Sordo’s Hyundai i20 N Rally1 caught fire further up the stage, seeing all cars rerouted to the beginning of SS4.

However, SS4 would bring more frustration for the WRC2 field with another red flag following an accident involving Craig Breen. 

When action did resume following midday service, Lindholm immediately claimed a stage win on SS5 to build an 8.7sec lead over Sami Pajari in an identical Toksport-build Fabia Rally2 Evo.

With SS7 cancelled due to barrier damage inflicted by Breen’s accident, just one stage remained. With his eyes on the bigger prize at play, Lindholm backed off the pace significantly - knowing that, with Kajetanowicz out of action, he only requires nine points to claim the title over defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen.

That opened the door for his fellow Finns Pajari and Teemu Suninen. The latter claimed the stage win in his Hyundai i20 N Rally2, but it was Pajari who moved into the overall category lead - ending 5.3sec ahead of Suninen and 8.4sec clear of the conservative Lindholm.

Sat in fourth place on Friday evening is Luxembourg’s Gregoire Munster in an i20 while Fabrizio Zaldivar rounded out the top five in an identical car. Mauro Miele is on course to clinch the WRC2 Masters Cup title and leads the way in the category. 

  • Full coverage from FORUM8 Rally Japan 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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