Sat 01 Jun 2024

Pajari leads but Rossel stars in WRC2 on Saturday

Sami Pajari extended his WRC2 lead to almost one minute at Rally Italia Sardegna, but it was championship leader Yohan Rossel who was raising eyebrows on Saturday.

Pajari, who is co-driven by Enni Mälkönen, grew his overnight advantage from 18.3sec to 54.7sec on the penultimate day of this sixth FIA World Rally Championship round, closing in on what looks increasingly likely to be his maiden victory with Toyota machinery.

The Finn had a weight lifted off of his shoulders early in the day when Pierre-Louis Loubet, who had been second, dropped almost two minutes after stopping to change a wheel.

“It's a nice feeling being in the lead,” Pajari said. “Tomorrow is four stages again so we need to see if [those behind] are getting closer or not, but it should be fine.”

Grabbing the headlines on Saturday was championship leader Yohan Rossel, who started the rally on the back foot with a wheel change on the opening morning.

Rossel delivered one of the most stunning comeback drives in recent memory to climb from 15th to second overall in the WRC2 category, gaining almost 1min 20sec on Pajari and winning every single stage.

The Frenchman is poised to extend his championship lead barring any major dramas on Sunday, and said: “It's been a perfect day for me. After yesterday afternoon it was not easy to keep the smile, but we have two options - look behind or look beyond. We have a very good car on gravel this year. Very happy for the team and for my co-driver also, so thank you."

Just 12.0sec behind Rossel and on course for his second podium in as many rallies was Spain’s Jan Solans, driving another Toyota. Fourth place went the way of Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 pilot Kajetan Kajetanowicz while Martin Prokop and Robert Virves, both driving similar cars, completed the top six.

Pajari heads Solans by 1min 6.7sec in the WRC2 Challenger category. In the WRC Masters Cup, Armin Kremer is a comfortable 4min 25.8sec clear of Frenchman Pierre Lafay.

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