Sat 17 Feb 2024

Local talent Johansson on the cusp of Junior joy

With an advantage of 55.0sec and three more Wolf Stage Win points, Mille Johansson enjoyed another strong day in the FIA Junior WRC Championship.

Taking place over five rounds on asphalt, gravel and snow, Rally Sweden marks the season opener with Swedish teenager Johansson one of 19 drivers competing in identical Pirelli-equipped Ford Fiesta Rally3s registered for 2024.


Starting Saturday’s second leg with a reduced lead of 26.8s over Romet Jürgenson after the FIA Rally Star driver’s time on SS4 was adjusted due to an on-stage delay, Johansson’s margin was cut further to 25.3 sec when Jürgenson set the fastest time on the day-opening SS9.


But Johansson, an 18-year-old Junior ERC graduate, hit back on SS11 with the quickest run to move 37.5sec ahead of his Estonian rival, who made a small mistake during the 28.06km stage. 

After SS10 winner Diego Domínguez went fastest again on SS12 for his second Wolf Stage Win point of the day, Johansson proved the driver to beat in the M-Sport Poland-run championship on SS13 to move 55.3sec clear of Jürgenson.


While Jürgenson set the SS14 benchmark time, he will head into Sunday’s final trio of stages with a deficit of 55.0sec to overcome after Johansson was fastest through SS15, Umeå.


Irishman Eamonn Kelly, who made his Junior WRC debut in Sweden 12 months ago, holds a comfortable third with Spaniard Raúl Hernández in fourth despite catching a car and spinning on SS9. Belgian Tom Rensonnet is fifth after a trouble-free effort from the RACB National Team-backed driver.

Having dropped a minute with a spin on SS9, German teenager Fabio Schwarz was in third place when he stopped 13.9km into SS14 with coolant leaking from his Ford Fiesta Rally3. Although he was able to continue, the delay dropped him to seventh place before he took sixth when Roberto Blach retired on SS15 with a damaged steering rod.


Chile’s Gilberto Rosselot, Kazakhstan driver Petr Borodin, Australia’s Taylor Gill and Romania’s Junior ERC champion Norbert Maior complete the Junior WRC top 10 followed by South African Max Smart.


Out of contention for victory due to damage sustained on Thursday evening’s first stage, Domínguez is in 13th position following a spin on SS11 and tyre damage on SS11.


Jakub Matulka restarted on leg two after crashing on Friday. The Polish ERC3 graduate served notice of his intent with a brace of top-three stage times in the afternoon.


The double-use 25.50km Västervik test kicks-off Rally Sweden’s final leg from 07:27 local time.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM