The rally racing weekend in Estonia was very atmospheric and noisy. WRC Rally Estonia 2022 organizers assured us it would be the best rally yet! What made us surprise and who became the chief hero of the central Tartu area?
WRC Estonia 2022 aims to bring rally racing closer to fans.
WRC Estonia 2022 started with a proper celebration with dancers, loud music, and the appearances of the drivers. That was clear Ford M-Sport driver Gus Greensmith got the genuine pleasure, though, like the other drivers too.
But how much joy it got the fans! It is crucial for any race fan to be part of the rally, to get up close and personal with the Rally1 cars, and to take some photos of the favorites. The organisers made the most of the celebrations as fans stepped closer to the FIA World Rally Championship.
Using the best of nature for the rally route.
Remarkable is another thing. It was hard to imagine how the organizers planned to create something more unique than the Estonian areas do. The conditions, the circumstances, may have made the route unrepeatable.
So, the sunny conditions changed in very unpredictable ways on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, creating a new a new challenge for Rally1 cars.
Trampoline jumps, ripped up roads, and high speeds made for a few headaches for our WRC drivers. For why is that? Long things short, almost all drivers made mistakes, as did their co-drivers. It was sometimes so dangerous, such as it was with Gus Grinsmith on Saturday and Oliver Solberg on Sunday, that we stared with no breath. The entire route became unique with its own character and charisma.
In addition to organizing the event, we looked at the penalties for the crews. During this time, many drivers received fines. Therefore, M-Sport Ford driver Craig Breen, Hyundai Motorsport driver Ott Tanak, and Kajetan Kajetanowicz (WRC2) were all penalized. Last time, many of the drivers got fineson Rally Monte Carlo, however. Despite this, our heroes were still able to enjoy racing.
The major heroes of WRC Rally Estonia 2022
The dark horse of WRC Estonia 2022 is Elfyn Evans.
Toyota Gazoo Racing was fast, that was clear. Their 1-2-3-4 finish in the WRC round in Kenya made furor and the team was heading to Tartu city as rally manufacturers’ championship leader. But who knew that Elfyn Evans would be so fast?
On Thursday’s start Craig Breen with his M-Sport Ford Puma Rally car immediately took the lead. That wasn’t so long ago as Elfyn Evans of Toyota Gazoo Racing overtook purple puma on Friday and has led the line-up since the start of SS2. Craig Breen’s dreams of winning disappeared after a mistake on Friday’s SS4. On SS5, Kale Rovanperä jumped into the game on the full throttle.
Ekfyn Evans had all the chances to win WRC Rally Estonia 2022. Nonetheless, hard-pressed Kalle Rovanperä had already taken the lead after Saturday’s SS11 and had made a breakthrough on SS13 before only straightening the advantage on SS14, SS15, SS16, SS17 and up to the Power Stage. Well, FIA WRC is always about the unpredictable. Elfyn Evans finished WRC Rally Estonia 2022 in second place.
Kalle Rovanperä’s vini, vidi, vici
Race fans in Estonia greeted Kalle Rovanperä with a loud ovation as only twelve months ago here in Estonia he became the WRC’s youngest rally winner. Incredibly, the 21-year-old Finn repeated the success by winning the WRC Rally Estonia.
In Saturday’s stages, he quickly made a breakthrough and was then unstoppable. Someone asks the younger Finn on what’s the secret, but Rovanperä was modest, explaining that he doesn’t know how. But in reality Rovanperä just knew how to handle all the parts of his Yaris. Having fine-tuned his car’s setup on Saturday morning, he improved his pace advantage to a few times that of Elfyn Evans. Even the rain which stepped into the game on Sunday couldn’t stop him. Kalle Rovanperä won the final Wolf Power Stage and finished the four-day gravel road fixture 1min 00.9sec ahead of Toyota GR Yaris teammate Elfyn Evans.
Today all the racing world is buzzing, as a younger WRC star is stepping closer to becoming the youngest champion in the series’ 50-year history. And yes, Kalle Rovanperä is stretching his points lead to 83 after seven of the 13 rounds. What a brilliant job done!
Home hero Ott Tänak
Hyundai Motorsport will be struggling – that was the first thought after the comments from Estonian rally driver Ott Tanak. Already on Friday he claimed for lack of power in his I20 Rally1 car.
Friday’s penalty for 10 seconds added to the problems for the crew. The case was in battery mode, as his I20 hybrid rally1 car was switched to HEV mode only at TC1A. Crucial mistakes weighed the crew down to third place.
Saturday and Sunday did not bring the desired results. However, Ott Tanak completed the podium a further 54.8sec adrift in a Hyundai i20. The four-time Estonia winner was more than good enough and deserved all the ovations from his fans.
Tanak’s teammate Thierry Neuville faced similar issues and finished WRC Rally Estonia almost two minutes further back in fourth.
Besides, one remarkable thing that surprised us was Andreas Mickelson’s speed on the last day on Sunday. Hard to imagine when was the last time that WRC2 rally cars were being faster than WRC rally cars. Anyway, on the final Power Stage, Andreas Mikkelsen was faster than Elfyn Evans by twenty seconds. Obviously, the weather conditions and the rain are at fault. Kalle Rovanperä brought the order back, but the point still needs to be noted.
The WRC Rally Estonia 2022 was one of the most outstanding rallies of the FIA World Rally Championship 2022 season.
We had very fast stages on very tricky roads, which disappeared in the rain and were very dusty in the sun. Peaceful views and amazing trump lings with a loud celebration.
But there is no time to rest, as we will soon be going to Finland, where we will be from 4th to 7th August.