WRC Rally Italia Sardegna brings the career first WRC2 outing for Pajari

Sami Pajari and Enni Mälkönen will take a step forward in their careers by competing for the first time in the WRC2 category when the WRC event on the beautiful island of Sardinia starts on Thursday evening.

The Finns will start their first international Rally2 event at the helm of a Toksport WRT serviced Skoda Fabia Rally2 EVO. Toksport is well known for their continuous success in the category with the likes of Andreas Mikkelsen and Emil Lindholm, making sure Pajari and Mälkönen can concentrate only on learning and adapting to their new tool of trade.

While Pajari competes in the Junior WRC category with a Ford Fiesta Rally3, he has had a few runs with the more powerful Rally2 machinery back home in Finland. One of which was with the Finnish Champion Teemu Asunmaa’s fast proven beast right before traveling to the Sardinian event, followed by a proper pre-event test in Sardinia at the start of the rally week.

Temperatures have been forecasted to reach almost 40˚C, making the rally even hotter than the previous JWRC event in Portugal where the conditions were otherwise similar. Both the crews and the cars will now be put to an ultimate test of endurance in one of the toughest events of the season.

“Even if we are primarily here to gather experience, and we were able to collect a nice amount of test mileage, I’m also happy with the pace we were able to demonstrate already. It’s two long days of recce before the start on Thursday evening. It is an exciting moment for sure and I can’t wait to get to the proper action,” Pajari shares his thoughts during the reconnaissance.

Pajari has competed once before on the windy roads of the Mediterranean island, in 2020, when his competition came to an abrupt end only after a few stages as technical issues forced him to retire for the day. He continued the event later by clocking in six special stage wins in the Rally4 JWRC category and ended up fifth in the final classification. 

Altogether 21 special stages are included in the rally itinerary, with a total length of 307,91 competitive kilometers. The rally route crosses the northern parts of the island connecting the cities of Alghero and Olbia on the western and eastern coasts respectively. The rally headquarters are in Alghero, where the rally will also host its podium ceremonies. The start will however take place in Olbia, over 135 kilometers to the east, where the first special stage will also be driven.

The first full day of the event will also start from Olbia where the route will head back towards the west coast. The day begins with a double loop of two stages followed by a service break in Alghero. The afternoon loop is again two special stages run repeatedly back-to-back before returning to Alghero for the overnight break. With the 8 stages in the itinerary, Friday sees 133,5 kilometers of competitive mileage.

Saturday has a similar schedule of two loops of two stages run repeatedly back-to-back comprising 131,82 kilometers. There is, however, a huge challenge added to the day: no service break is allowed between the eight stages. Those who survive the grueling day will again return to Alghero for the final overnight break. The final day of Sunday will still have two repeatedly run stages to climax the event with a total distance of 39,3 kilometers between them.

It has become a tradition of the event for the winners and their teams to dive into the harbor pool, but most certainly they will not be the only ones to long for a refreshing swim in the waves of the Mediterranean sea after one of hottest adventures in the WRC calendar.

Sami Pajari online: 

Photo: Rallypixels

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