Kalle Rovanperä / Jonne Halttunen will face Saturday stages of Rally Estonia as the leaders
The first full day of Rally Estonia, the seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship, was held on Friday, 15 July. The total of eight stages were tackled on Friday.
Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1) had the best start of the day in volatile conditions, winning five stages in a row. During the second passing of Mustvee stage the first stage victory of this year's Rally Estonia was taken by the World Championship leaders Kalle Rovanperä / Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1), who reduced the gap with their teammates with each remaining stage and became the leaders of the rally at the end of the day. The gap between two Toyota racing pairs before Saturday's stages is 11.7 seconds.
Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) driving on home roads showed TOP3 times in six out of eight stages, but unfortunately, in the last stage of the day driven in heavy rain, the windshield of their Hyundai fogged up for technical reasons and as much as 23.4 seconds were lost with the stage. Fortunately, this did not change their overall position and the Estonians finished the day at the third place. They are 44.3 seconds behind the leaders.
"I can be honest and say that I pushed pretty hard. Quite a few times it wasn't comfortable. Not the most enjoyable from our perspective, but we did the best we could. We tried to develop and learn as much as possible. Sometimes we made wrong decisions and then right decisions, but that's the only way to learn. We came here without preparation, so it is not easy to adapt immediately on these fast roads," Tänak said during the Meet The Crews interview held in the service park of the Estonian National Museum.
Rally Estonia overall after SS9
1.Kalle Rovanperä/ Jonne Halttunen Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 1:16:19.7
2.Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +11.7
3.Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +44.3
4.Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +1:05.9
5.Thierry Neuville / Martijn Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 +1:12.9
6.Adrien Fourmaux / Alexandre Coria Ford Puma Rally1 +2:08.1
7.Takamoto Katsuta / Aaron Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 +2:10.9
8.Gus Greensmith / Jonas Andersson Ford Puma Rally1 +2:29.4
9.Pierre-Louis Loubet / Vincent Landais Ford Puma Rally1 +3:59.0
10. Andreas Mikkelsen / Torstein Eriksen Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo +4:57.4
Andreas Mikkelsen / Torstein Eriksen (Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo) finished the day as leaders of WRC2, with a lead of 12.1 seconds over Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Hyundai i20 N Rally2). Among the Estonians, Georg Linnamäe / Craig Drew (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5) hold the best position after Friday, who start Saturday's stages as the ninth car in the WRC2 class.
The best of Friday's rally day in the Junior WRC category were Sami Pajari / Enni Mälkönen (Ford Fiesta Rally3). Their lead over compatriots Lauri Joona / Mikael Korhonen (Ford Fiesta Rally3) is 56 seconds. Robert Virves / Julia Thulin fought for the first place up to the eighth stage, but then hit a rock with the left wheel of the car and lost time. They face Saturday in the fourth place.
Two stages were held on Friday in the Terminal Oil Estonian Championship. The best pace of the day was shown by Egon Kaur / Silver Simm (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5), whose lead over Linnamäe / Drew is 7.6 seconds and 24.5 seconds ahead of Virves / Thulin. The best on Friday in the EMV4 class were Jaspar Vaher / Marti Halling (Ford Fiesta Rally4), Timmu Kõrge / Erki Pints (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X) in EMV5, EMV6 Taavi Niinemets / Esko Allika (BMW M3) in EMV6, Ronald Jürgenson / Marko Kaasik (Honda Civic Type-R) in EMV7 and Karel Tölp / Sander Siniorg (Ford Fiesta R2) in EMV8.
The opening and closing events of Tartu Superenduro 2022, which took place on the start and finsih podium of Rally Estonia, ended Friday's rally day of Rally Estonia, which offered excitement and drama. Meanwhile, the winner of the 8th season of Estonian Top Idol, the bright and talented Alika Milova performed for the audience.
Rally Estonia continues on Saturday with nine stages, during which 95.02 test kilometres will be covered. The participants of the Estonian championships will compete in four stages on Saturday.
On Saturday, 16 July, the start podium and exhibition of the vintage vehicles will take place on the Town Hall Square. At 20:00, Rita Ray, one of the most unique artists of the recent years having won the hearts of the audience very quickly, will perform on Tartu Town Hall Square. After the concert the awards will be given on the same podium to the best rally drivers who participated in the Estonian Championship at Rally Estonia.
WRC Rally Estonia is the round of 2022 FIA World Rally Championship, which will be held in Tartu and in rural municipalities of Tartu, Otepää, Elva, Kanepi, Kambja, Peipsiääre and Mustvee on 14-17 July 2022.