Sami Pajari and his co-driver Enni Mälkönen finished fifth in the Junior WRC season opener in Sweden. The weekend’s result was greatly hindered by a small technical issue with the car after the second special stage on Friday, which forced the Finns to retire while leading their class.
The car’s fueling system related issue was fixed for Saturday and Pajari’s objective for the rest of Rally Sweden was clear: gather the maximum amount of the JWRC stage points awarded for fastest stage times. Out of the six stages scheduled for Saturday, Pajari and Mälkönen claimed all but the final one of the day, thus securing 5 important championship points.
“The mission was to grab stage wins and we managed that quite well. I enjoyed the driving and all went well. We try to continue the final day with the same pace,” Pajari recapped Saturday’s success.
Sunday, however, was not to be the complete success Pajari hoped for. Joona and Armstrong were battling all day for the victory with only fractions of seconds separating them. Pajari and Mälkönen were however able to squeeze a win out of the final stage of the rally and secure their catch of most stage wins of all the JWRC crew. By grabbing the final stage point, Pajari also landed a third place in the JWRC championship after the opening round.
“It was not quite what we came for, because of the early retirement on Friday with the technical issue. Saturday then was a pretty good day for us, we managed to get many stage points, but then again only one on Sunday. We need to find the positive things from here and then focus on the next round,” Pajari sums up Rally Sweden after the final stage.
FIA Junior World Rally Championship continues with Rally Croatia on 21-24 of April.
Final Classification – Rally Sweden
1. Jon Armstrong (GBR) 2:24:31.1
2. Lauri Joona (FIN) +2,7
3. William Creighton (IRL) +2:22.5
4. McRae Kimathi (KEN) +47:24.2
5. Sami Pajari – Enni Mälkönen (FIN) +49:28.4
Unofficial JWRC points after round 1/5
1. Jon Armstrong (GBR) 30p
2. Lauri Joona (FIN) 21p
3. Sami Pajari (FIN) 17p
4. William Creighton (IRL) 16p
5. McRae Kimathi (KEN) 12p
Text: Pajari Media
Photo: Taneli Niinimäki