After a three-week rest following the battle in Kenya, the World Rally Championship gears up for the seventh round of the season. The Rally Estonia is coming up this weekend (July 15-18) and Hyundai Motorsports really needs to win it.
At the very least, this is one of the friendliest events for Alzenaus´ squad and as such, they arrive as the biggest favourites for the win. The team has placed all of its trust in local hero Tänak, who will be defending his 2020 victory and hopefully put an end to the Japanese whirlwind.
The best allies of the 2019 world champion will be the lightning-fast stages and the encouragement of his countrymen.
After finishing third at Rally Safari Kenia, partly because of Thierry Neuville’s abandonment, he is currently fourth in the standings, just eight points behind the latter. He is, however, 64 points from the leader, Sébastien Ogier.
Craig Breen will be completing the South Korean trio at Rally Estonia. The Irishman will take over from Spaniard Dani Sordo onboard the third i20 Coupé WRC. Pressured by the lack of results,
Hyundai has decided to bring forward the premiere of its new engine this weekend, the launching of which was initially scheduled for 2022.
At the Constructors’ standings, they accrue 214 points, 59 less than Toyota, and with every passing rally, it gets increasingly harder to cut that distance back.
Toyota to continue to dominate
The team from Jyväskylä’s arrives in Rally Estonia as the undisputed leader of both rankings. The Japanese squad is demonstrating to be a cut above the rest so far this season. So much so that at the last Rally Safari they took their fourth 1-2 and fifth victory out of the six rallies disputed so far in 2021.
His superiority has taken him to the lead of the standings with 133 points, 34 more than his partner and rival for the crown, Elfyn Evans. No match for his French teammate, the Welshman has only been able to beat him once, in Portugal.
Evans would need to deliver a very strong performance on board his Yaris WRC if he wants to stand a chance of reversing the situation.
Katsuta Takamoto and Kalle Rovanperä will complete the line-up of the Japanese team in the Estonian appointment. The former faces the Estonian Rally in great spirits after snatching his first podium in the top category of the WRC at the last Safari Rally.
His great result propped him up to fifth in the standings with 66 points, only three less than Tänak, in fourth.
Rovanperä’s performance, on the other hand, is following the opposite trajectory. After he dazzled the world in Finland as the youngest driver in history to get a WRC podium and briefly topped the standings, the young Scandinavian has slowly faded.
To his moment of glory followed three retirements and an eighth-place, all of which have contributed to the languishing of the young driver. We can only hope that this is a temporary slump and that Rovanperä starts to recover his confidence, particularly after taking his best result since Scandinavian event and at the last race in Kenya.
M-Sport, Suninen returns to the action
Gus Greensmith, who gave a remarkable performance to fourth place in Kenya, will again be leading M-Sport‘s line-up in the Rally Estonia. Joining the Briton will be Teemu Suninen who replaces Adrien Fourmaux at the wheel of the second Ford Fiesta. This weekend will be a crucial appointment for the Finn.
Rally Estonia´s route
The itinerary of the Rally Estonia will expand again from the three days of 2020 to its regular four days starting on Thursday. the route will consist of 24 sections and 1,253.15 km, 324.16 km of which will be timed, with the city of Tartu as the epicentre of the event.
WRC Rally Estonia 2021: Hyundai Motorsport.