WRC ORLEN 80th Rally Poland
Starts: Thursday, June 27, 2024 at 8:00:00 AM
ERC Bauhaus Royal Rally of Scandinavia
Starts: Thursday, June 13, 2024 at 12:00:00 PM
Ferratum World RX of Sweden 1
Starts: Saturday, July 6, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM

Sat 05 Aug 2023

Pajari storms back ahead in WRC2

Sami Pajari is in line to celebrate WRC2 glory on home soil after his closest challenger Jari Huttunen retired from Secto Rally Finland on Saturday

Pajari, who is just 21 years old, had set the pace in the premier support category for much of Friday’s opening leg but fell behind Huttunen as a result of a front left puncture.

He trailed his fellow Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 driver by 12.9sec heading into this penultimate day but clawed back an amazing 10.0sec in the wet-weather opener at Västila.

Huttunen, caught napping, then doubled his buffer with a strong response on the legendary roads of Päijäla but later pulled over in the second pass of Vekkula. A technical issue meant he went no further and promoted Pajari back to the fore.

The youngster, who holds an impressive seventh in the overall rally standings, leads M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2 driver Adrien Fourmaux by 33.9sec going into Sunday’s four-stage finale. Victory in Finland would be the first at this level for Pajari and co-driver Enni Mälkönen.

"It feels really good," Pajari smiled, "but what a tricky day! In the morning it was mainly so much pushing and then now some stages were just about surviving, especially in the last one - I cannot count with my fingers how many surprises there were."

Andreas Mikkelsen had started the day fifth but leapfrogged Toksport Škoda team-mate Nikolay Gryazin in SS14 before climbing to third after Huttunen’s retirement. Disaster struck late in the afternoon, however, with brake problems and a puncture dropping him behind Gryazin once again.

A fast-finishing Georg Linnamäe overtook Mikko Heikkilä in the final stage to grab fifth in a Hyundai i20 N Rally2. Both drivers climbed the leaderboard when Gus Greensmith rolled in SS16.

WATCH: Greensmith rolls on Saturday afternoon