Tom Kristensson became the first double winner of the 2019 FIA Junior WRC Championship by taking a mistake-free and commanding victory on Rally Finland. In a rally that was not short of drama or excitement, Kristensson kept his cool throughout and picked up eight stage wins and championship points.
- Kristensson has regained his championship lead by one point over Jan Solans who finished second.
- Just two points separate the top two in the championship discounting their worst result.
- Six different stage winners with Kristensson winning the most with eight.
- Only Kristensson had a trouble-free rally with plenty of accidents and excitement throughout the field.
- Discounting their worst result, six drivers have a mathematical chance of winning the championship on Rally GB thanks to double points.
Dennis Rådström looked set to finish second until SS22 where he crashed, damaging his radiator, which forced him to retire. But Rådström’s championship hopes are still very much alive, thanks to double points on Wales Rally GB – the FIA Junior WRC championship finale.
Jan Solans started the rally and looked to be a contender for victory, finishing Friday’s stages with three stage fastest times and 24.2 seconds behind Kristensson. On Saturday; Solans had a difficult morning loop, almost rolling on SS13. He regrouped for the second pass and kept his rally clean for the remainder of the day, climbing back to third and taking a win on SS15. Sunday saw Solans take another test win on SS21, which promoted him to second following Rådström’s retirement.
Sami Pajari, AKK Sport’s Flying Finn Future Star Award winner, impressed many onlookers when he claimed his maiden FIA Junior WRC stage win on SS3. The Finn was vying for a top-five position and claimed another stage win on SS13 until his rally ended on SS16 by hitting a rock and rolling off the stage. Fellow Finn and Flying Finn Academy driver, Aleksi Royhkio, showed good speed on his home rally and was able to bring home a very respectable fourth position.
Julius Tannert snatched the opening stage win on Harju 1. It would be Tannert’s only stage win of the event as a puncture hampered him on SS2, before his rally ended when he rolled on SS18, surrendering any realistic ambitions of winning the 2019 FIA Junior WRC Championship.
Despite Kristensson winning SS5, Raul Badiu had many onlookers watching his split times with anticipation as he looked to collect his maiden stage win but finished just 0.3 seconds from Kristensson’s time. He was set to earn his illusive first stage win on SS6, 2.4 seconds up on the field through his split times, until disaster struck. The Romanian had a high-speed crash, retiring from the rally and suffered two broken ribs and a concussion. All at FIA Junior WRC wish him the speediest of recoveries.
FIA Junior WRC returned to Harju on Friday evening for the second Super Special Stage of Rally Finland. Martins Sesks took his first stage win since Rally Sweden after posting multiple top-five times throughout the day.
Saturday would see a day of unprecedented action as seven cars failed to make it to the finish line of SS19, the last stage of the day.
Kristensson would go on to extend his lead on Saturday, even though he only took two stage wins, his consistent pace would average out faster than the pace of his rivals, concluding the day with a 25.2-second lead over Dennis Rådström.
Roland Poom, like Badiu, appeared to be on the cusp of claiming his maiden FIA Junior WRC stage win throughout Rally Finland. With those around him faltering on Saturday, Poom seemed to go from strength to strength and was classified third at the start of SS19 until he joined the list of retirees shooting off the edge of a stage and head-on into a tree. Despite failing to finish the last stage of the day, Poom only lost one position and following Rådström’s retirement on Sunday he was promoted to the third and collected his second podium of the season.
Four speed tests remained on Sunday and Kristensson kicked the day off with another stage win on SS20 to extend his lead. Kristensson took his final stage win on SS22 while Solans added a stage win to his tally on SS21.
Martins Sesks would take the final stage win of the rally denying Sean Johnston of his first stage point by 2.8 seconds as Tom Kristensson finished fifth to win his second FIA Junior WRC rally by a comfortable margin.
RALLY FINLAND CLASSIFICATION AND DRIVER QUOTES:
1.Tom Kristensson / Henrik Appelskog 02:55:17.2
2. Jan Solans / Mauro Barreiro 01:28.0
3. Roland Poom / Ken Jarveoja 11:54.8
4. Aleksi Royhkio / Ville Mannisenmaki 13:25.2
5. Sean Johnston / Alex Kihurani 13:42.3
6. Enrico Oldrati / Elia de Guio 19:38.4
7. Nico Knacker / Michael Wenzel 38:33.4
8. Fabrizio Zaldivar / Fernando Mussano 53:39.3
9. Martins Sesks / Andris Malnieks 56:31.7
10. Tom Williams / Phil Hall 1:20:02.7
Dennis Rådström / Johan Johansson
Sami Pajari / Antti Haapala
Julius Tannert / Jürgen Heigl
Raul Badiu / Gabriel Lazar