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

Tue 14 Nov 2023

Japan the backdrop for WRC2 Challenger showdown

FORUM8 Rally Japan will decide the 2023 WRC2 Challenger champion with Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Nikolay Gryazin set to go head-to-head in Aichi this week.

Introduced at the beginning of this year, WRC2 Challenger is open to WRC2-registered drivers and co-drivers who have not previously won a title with Rally2 machinery at WRC level. Drivers previously nominated for WRC manufacturer points are also ineligible.

For Kajetanowicz, who currently sits second in the standings behind absent Finn Sami Pajari, a result of third place or higher will be enough to secure the crown – regardless of what fellow Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 driver Gryazin does.

Kajetanowicz is no stranger to final-round showdowns, having started last year’s Rally Japan in contention for the overall WRC2 victory. A crash early in the event ended those hopes, however, but the Pole is eager to “stay calm” this time around.

“I want to stay calm although this is of course difficult, as this is the last rally of the season,” he said. “You feel some pressure when you realise that points scored here will decide the championship outcome, but I am trying to transform this pressure into motivation to do my best in this difficult rally.”

Andreas Mikkelsen sewed up the WRC2 title at last month’s Central European Rally which means the Norwegian, alongside co-driver Torstein Eriksen, can afford to enjoy a pressure-free run this week.

Ex-F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen will be one to watch, particularly as the Škoda-driving Finn won the All-Japan Rally championship title in 2022. Other stars include Daniel Chwist and Osamu Fukunaga, while Eamonn Boland and Satoshi Imai – both driving Citroën C3 Rally2s – are the only non-Fabia entrants.