Delfi Rally Estonia
Fia WRC Autosport

Get ready: 51 Crews Gear up for the ERC Delfi Rally Estonia Next Week!

Today, June 25, the list of participants for this year's Delfi Rally Estonia was announced. A total of 51 crews have registered for the fourth round of the European Rally Championship, with competitors from 23 countries coming to the roads of Southern Estonia. For the first time in the history of Delfi Rally Estonia, competitors from Croatia will also be at the start. Registration for the Terminal Estonian Rally Championship, Estonian Junior Challenge and the Delfi Rally Estonia Trophy, taking place on July 5-6 ends today, Tuesday, June 25. The participation of Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja in the Delfi Rally Estonia Trophy is already confirmed.

Delfi Rally Estonia director Urmo Aava: "I am very pleased to note that 51 competitors have registered for the Delfi Rally Estonia, including more than twenty Rally2 cars. When we initially planned this year's Delfi Rally Estonia, one of our wishes was to have a strong starting list from the Estonian side, with strong competition in every class and this wish has now come true. This should also motivate Estonian rally fans to come to the stages, bring their flags and cheer for their own, as that last 0.1 second might just come from there, so the fans' contribution cannot be underestimated."

Several Estonian crews will provide strong competition on home roads for the ERC top drivers

Six of the ERC season's TOP8 crews are starting in the Delfi Rally Estonia, led by the Championship leaders Mathieu Franceschi / Andy Malfoy (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2). While the Frenchmen lack previous experience on the Southern Estonian roads, reigning European Champions Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 N Rally2) last competed at Rally Estonia in 2022. Recent years' experience on the fast roads of Southern Estonia is also held by the current sixth place in the ERC series and two-time Rally Estonia winner Mads Østberg (Citroën C3 Rally2), who was last here in 2021.
"I am very excited to compete again at Delfi Rally Estonia. It is a wonderful event, and I have driven there several times, even before it was part of the ERC or WRC calendar. It is a very fast rally with many jumps, excellently prepared for both competitors and spectators. I hope you are all on the trackside because we need your support, and we will show you how we do it," said Mads Østberg before the rally week.

Mikko Heikkilä, who made his only Rally Estonia start in the same year as Østberg, will start this time with a new Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 car. Simone Tempestini (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2), who won the first round of the ERC season and is currently third in the series, has also competed at Delfi Rally Estonia, but that was 10 years ago. Another fast Finnish driver, Teemu Asunmaa (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2), has even earlier experience on Estonian roads. Certainly, those who want to have their say in the ERC standings include Mārtiņš Sesks / Renārs Francis (Toyota GR Yaris Rally2) who have competed several times in Estonia.

Four Estonian crews with Rally2 cars are coming to the start in the ERC main class. Among them are Georg Linnamäe / James Morgan (Toyota GR Yaris Rally2), who have twice finished on the podium in the ERC rallies, and the 2022 Junior World Champion Robert Virves, with co-driver Craig Drew.
"We had a good pace in Estonia last year, and the car feels good on fast rallies, so we should have good chances in the ERC stage this year. If everything goes as planned, I see no reason why we shouldn't be able to compete for the win," said Linnamäe in an interview on the ERC website.

Gregor Jeets / Timo Taniel will make their first ERC start of the season with a new Toyota GR Yaris Rally2, prepared by the Estonian team RedGrey, the same as Linnamäe / Morgan's car. Kaspar Kasari and Rainis Raidma will also make their first start on Estonian roads with a new Ford Fiesta Rally2 competition car.

Romet Jürgenson / Siim Oja will compete for the ERC3 class victory

In the four-wheel drive Rally3 class ERC3, eight crews are starting, including the ERC3 class leaders Igor Widłak / Michał Marczewski (Ford Fiesta Rally3). Junior WRC class leaders Romet Jürgenson and Siim Oja (Ford Fiesta Rally3) will provide strong competition for the Poles and other ERC3 class competitors on their home roads.
"Rally Estonia is a great opportunity to get back into a fast driving rhythm before the next Junior WRC stage in Finland and to drive on fast roads. It is certainly a great opportunity to measure your speed against other competitors. There are very fast competitors at the European level, who also participate in the World Championship. Considering the Estonian drivers who will compete, it will be a very tough competition, and the gas must be flat out from the start to win, which I definitely aim to do," said Junior WRC class leader Romet Jürgenson before the Delfi Rally Estonia.

In addition to Jürgenson / Oja, the ERC3 class will also feature the fresh young team LightGrey competitors Joosep Ralf Nõgene / Aleks Lesk (Renault Clio Rally3) and Parick Enok / Silver Simm (Ford Fiesta Rally3), who recently had an exciting second-by-second battle at the Estonian Championship stage in Finland.

Several Estonian crews who have finished on the podium this year will compete in the ERC Junior standings

In the front-wheel drive ERC4 and ERC Junior categories, 16 crews have registered for the Delfi Rally Estonia. Leading the ERC Junior class are Mille Johansson / Johan Grönvall (Opel Corsa Rally4). In addition to the Swedes, the winners of the season's first stage, Max McRae / Cameron Fair (Peugeot 208 Rally4), will also start. From Estonia, competing in the ERC Junior class are Jaspar Vaher / Sander Pruul (Ford Fiesta Rally4), who finished second in the season opener.
"Our goal is, as always, to gain valuable experience and collect kilometers for the future. Of course, on the home roads, we want to show good speed, as it is a good place for that. We will not put pressure on ourselves and will do it with pleasure and go to enjoy it," said Team Estonia Autosport member Vaher before the home competition.

Another Estonian crew to start is Karl-Markus Sei / Martin Leotoots (Peugeot 208 Rally4), who finished third on the podium at the previous ERC Junior stage in Sweden. Sei's good performance in Sweden gave him confidence for the next round, which will be driven on the roads of Southern Estonia. "We didn't catch the Swedes this time, but I hope that the roles will be reversed in Estonia. The goal was achieved, and the podium gave a strong positive emotion for the home event Delfi Rally Estonia, and from here, it can only get better," said ALM Motorsport competitor Sei after the Swedish rally.

From Estonia, more crews will start in the Rally3 category, including 2017 Dakar Rally Malle Moto class winner Toomas Triisa with Laur Merisalu and also Esmar-Arnold Unt / Robin Mark. In the front-wheel drive Rally4 cars category, the leaders of the Estonian Junior Challenge, Kevin Lepu / Hendrik Kraav, Mark-Egert Tiits / Jakko Viilo, and Tiit Keldo / Jaagup Toome will compete.

You can find ERC Delfi Rally Estonia Entry List HERE

The ERC Delfi Rally Estonia 2024 will be driven on the roads of Tartu, Otepää and Southern Estonia from July 5-7, with plenty of competition and adrenaline on the fast gravel roads.

In total, there will be 14 special stages with a total length of 187.64 kilometers. Spectators are in for an unprecedented opening show and starting podium at Tartu Town Hall Square, more than 30 unique viewing areas on the special stages, and free access to the service park in Otepää, Tehvandi. Moreover, in the evening of Saturday July 6 the official concert of ERC Delfi Rally Estonia will take place in Elva, just after the Elva city stage. All event information, special stage maps, spectator area descriptions and much more can be found in the official Rally Magazine, which is on sale at Circle K stations across Estonia. All information for the spectators enjoyable experience can also be found in the event’s homepage. Rally passes, day passes, and VIP passes are on sale in the e-shop on the Delfi Rally Estonia website at www.rallyestonia.ee and also at Piletitasku. Get ready and come cheer for your own!

Photo: Jaanus Ree