Sun 18 Feb 2024

Marvellous Mille speeds to debut Junior WRC win

The FIA Junior WRC Championship celebrated the emergence of its latest young talent after Mille Johansson took a stunning debut victory on the Rally Sweden season opener today (Sunday).

Aged 18 and competing in the World Rally Championship for the first time, Johansson snatched first place in the M-Sport Poland-run contest on SS6 and never looked back, winning by 48.9sec.


One of a record 19 entrants, Johansson beat FIA Rally Star program member Romet Jürgenson as Eamonn Kelly completed the podium in the category for identical Ford Fiesta Rally3s run equipped with Pirelli tyres.


While seven drivers scored Wolf Stage Win points across the winter weekend to highlight the highly competitive nature of Junior WRC, Johansson completed his home rally with eight additional points after setting the pace eight times alongside co-driver Johan Grönvall.

Johansson is now hoping his success in Sweden will convince more partners to come forward and support his Junior WRC challenge after he revealed that he has yet to secure the full budget required for the five-event season, which continues in Croatia from 18 - 21 April.


“I was not thinking I would be the fastest, but the feeling has been great all weekend, just some small driving mistakes losing some time, but we have taken that back and had a strong pace all weekend,” the Junior ERC graduate said. “For the moment we don’t have the budget [to carry on] so I hope someone will join us. We will see but I will love to [keep going].”


Jürgenson was the ninth Estonian to score a Junior WRC podium and the third to do so on his debut. He took three Wolf Stage Win points on his way to second place, more than three minutes clear of Irishman Eamonn Kelly.


Spain’s Raúl Hernández, who won the opening stage, finished fourth ahead of Belgian Tom Rensonnet and Chilean Geraldo Rosselot, who was sixth on his Junior WRC debut and fastest on the Wolf Power Stage.

Kazakhstan driver Petr Borodin, another Junior WRC newcomer, finished seventh with Australian FIA Rally Star Taylor Gill in eighth.


Romania’s 2023 Junior ERC champion Norbert Maior was ninth on his step up to world level as his prize for taking the European title with co-driving sister Francesca Maior. South African Max Smart completed his seventh ever rally in 10th place.


Spain’s Roberto Blach restarted on Sunday morning following suspension damage picked up on Saturday’s closing stage and finished 11th followed by Bolivian Nataniel Bruun. Andre Martinez, Abdullah Al-Rawahi and Jakub Matulka completed the finishers.


Fabio Schwarz, who held third after leg one, was unable to finish, retiring with damage after striking a snowbank on SS16. Diego Domínguez also went no further than Sunday’s first stage due to a broken radiator.

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