On Friday evening the biggest autosport event in the Baltic’s, Shell Helix Rally Estonia kicks off with the official opening ceremony held on the podium in Tartu City centre. This is the most prestigious Rally Estonia so far as three WRC teams are starting in the rally. Total 103 crews from 12 countries are in the entry list and besides the competition offers this year’s rally great entertainment programm and for the first time LHV autolaen AUTOEXPO is held during the rally in Tartu, near the podium.
First car in the road on Saturday will be Toyota Yaris WRC from Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team driven by Estonian own stars Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja.
Ott Tänak, Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team: “ It has been always really fun to drive on the roads of Estonia. I am happy that we are able to attend this time with our team and Toyota Yaris WRC in Rally Estonia. This is a great opportunity to bring the real WRC to our home roads and it seems that this year’s entry list is going to be really strong. For the team, it’s a good way to gain the data and experiences in a real competition. Our biggest target for Rally Estonia is to get back the feeling of driving in the fast roads after mountain events, but we would definitely like to finish on the top of the podium in our home event and offer the best rally experience to our fans in home event.“
Martin Järveoja, Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team: „Starting at Shell Helix Rally Estonia is a good way to give something back to our fans in Estonia. I hope we can offer them a weekend full of excitement and good emotions. For us it is great opportunity to find the right feeling for Rally Finland. The fact that two other manufacturer teams are also here gives us a real comparison which is something you can’t have in regular tests between rallies. For me personally it is very special that I can compete with Toyota Yaris WRC in my hometown Elva where one super special of the rally is held.“
Hayden Paddon-Seb Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) and Craig Breen-Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) will be joining Tänak and Järveoja in their home rally and all the drivers praise the fast stages of Rally Estonia.
Hayden Paddon, Hyundai Motorsport: “I’m really looking forward to Shell Helix Rally Estonia in July. I’ve always followed it closely in the previous years and have really liked the looks of the fast flowing roads – which are my favourite type. It will also be a great preparation for Rally Finland and we will use this opportunity as a test session in competitive conditions. It will be also great to bring our WRC car to Rally Estonia on what will be a very fast rally and I’m sure the spectators will enjoy seeing us in action there.”
Craig Breen, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team: „I am very happy to go back in Estonia. I did this rally two times in the past and have good memories. This is a very good opportunity to get time on fast road, this is a good preparation before Rally Finland. I am really looking forward to Rally Estonia.“
There is total 5 WRC cars in the entry list as Georg Gross-Raigo Mõlder (Ford Fiesta WRC), winners of Rally Estonia 2013 start with previous generation Ford Fiesta WRC and Valeri Gorban-Sergei Larens driving in WRC during the previous years start with Mini Cooper WRC car.
As the fight for the win will be tough it is same in R5 cars category. Total 9 teams from Finland, Baltic’s and Russia are ready to fight for podium places in this class. Jari Huttunen-Antti Linnaketo from Hyundai Motorsport Driver development Program (HMDP) are participating in WRC 2 class this year and last year they won Rally Finland in same category. They will have strong competition from many drivers in this class and amongst them another young Finn Eerik Pietarinen who is leading Finnish championship. He and the co-driver Juhana Raitanen will be driving Skoda Fabia R5 car from ex-WRC driver Toni Gardemeister’s team TGS Worldwide.
Jari Huttunen, Hyundai Motorsport: “I am really looking forward to Rally Estonia. After the new challenges of the events in Mexico and Portugal it will be nice for Antti and me to get onto some more familiar style roads in preparation for Rally Finland. My main aim at the moment is to gain as much time behind the wheel as possible to continue to gain experience in the Hyundai i20 R5. Working alongside Hayden Paddon and the WRC team I am sure I can also learn a few things from them about their approach both in, and out, of the car. Rally Estonia should give me a great opportunity to get into the rhythm needed for these fast gravel stages before Finland and, of course, give me a chance to put on a show for the Finnish fans that make the trip to Estonia.”
Eerik Pietarinen: „Rally Estonia is a very important event for us as it is a very fast rally. We use this as a preparation for Rally Finland and I’m sure we will find good pace in Estonia. Also the competition is very strong, many good drivers with R5 cars and it is good to compete with top WRC cars. Our aim is to be in top of the R5 class.“
As Shell Helix Rally Estonia is a round of Estonian and Latvian championship it means the best drivers from the Baltic’s are in the entry list. Also you can find some names who will do one off start in Rally Estonia. Reinis Nitišs, Latvian rallycross star loves to do some rally’s between his rallycross races and he will be starting with Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X. His co-driver is very experienced Andris Malnieks. Karl Kruuda is also back in his home event as he missed 2016 edition. This time is he driving Ford Fiesta Proto car with Estonian Champion Annika Arnek. In R2 cars category Oliver Solberg , son of Petter Solberg WRC and FIA RX world champion is stepping against Estonian drivers like Ken Torn who is participating this year in JWRC. And don’t miss the rally trucks. Only in Estonia can you see GAZ rally trucks competing in national rally championship and it is worth to see.
The official opening and award ceremony will take place in Tartu, the second biggest city in Estonia. Tartu is an entertainment centre of Shell Helix Rally Estonia and the main artist of the official concert is Russian superstar Nyusha.
Otepää which is known as a winter resort offers great opportunities for the technical centre of the rally. Service park and HQ are located in Otepää at Tehvandi Sport Centre. Besides Tartu, Elva hosts another Super Special and the gravel stages in South-Estonia are considered as the best in the country.
Shell Helix Rally Estonia rally passes, concert tickets official program Autoleht and fan gear are on sale in all Circle K stations all over Estonia and in Sportland rallyshops in Tartu. Official rallyradio is Radio Kuku. The frequency in Tartu is 102,4 Mhz and in Otepää 91,8 Mhz. Worldwide is rallyradio audible here http://player.kuku.postimees.ee/ralliraadio
Shell Helix Rally Estonia held on 13-15 of July is a round of Estonian and Latvian rally championships and FIA European Rally Trophy.
More ways to spend your vacation in Estonia > www.visitestonia.com