This really sounds like a proper rally spectacle and surely Estonia is where you should be later this month for a rally with close to 200 crews lining up for the start, few of those being from the top WRC teams. Rally starts on July 20 which puts it very close to Rally Finland so naturally some drivers and teams decided to run the Estonian event and use it as a warm-up preparation rally ahead of the World Rally Championship event in Finland.
Official release (which is just below) claims 182 entries from 21 countries were submitted to the organizers, and the line-up is quite interesting – impressive even. Sometime ago I wrote about Jari-Matti Latvala’s plan to do this event in a different kind of Ford machinery, and that plan will be put to life in Estonia – Jari-Matti will tackle the stages in a historic rear wheel drive Ford Escort. The remaining top WRC drivers (Thierry Neuville, Mads Ostberg and Martin Prokop) competing in Estonia opted for arguably less spectacular if much faster modern WRC machinery.
Fans of historic rallying will also be able to enjoy themselves in Estonia as this rally is also part of FIA Historic European Sporting Rally Championship.
Full official release below.
auto24 Rally Estonia entry list comes close to 200 crews
auto24 rally Estonia held on 20-21th in Otepää is the biggest autosport event in Baltics this year. Total 182 crews from 21 countries are in the entry list and as auto24 Rally Estonia is also a round of FIA Historic European Sporting Rally Championship lot of history of rally will be shown in Otepää.
As many teams are taking auto24 Rally Estonia as a good preparation before Neste Oil Rally Finland, total four drivers from TOP 10 in WRC are present in auto24 Rally Estonia. Mads Østberg, Martin Prokop and Thierry Neuville will use the same cars they drive in WRC. But Jari-Matti Latvala goes back to the roots as he will conquer South-Estonian gravel roads with rear-wheel drive Ford Escort taking part of FIA Historic European Sporting Rally Championship.
Two more WRC cars are in the entry list, local driver Georg Gross comes to auto24 Rally Estonia with Ford Focus WRC 08 and Oleksii Tamrazov from Ukraine with Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
The competition in Group N is strong as always. AS auto24 Rally Estonia is also a round of Latvian Championship, two-times Latvian champion Andis Neiksans will be after many years again starting in Estonia. But ofcourse for the local drivers Siim Plangi, Rainer Aus, Kaspar Koitla, Raul Jeets, Egon Kaur and Sander Pärn the main goal is to keep the victory in Group N in Estonia. For Sander Pärn who will start in Neste Oil Rally Finland is this the best preparation for WRC event. Also strong candidates for top places in Group N are Russian Aleksei Lukjanuk and Wojciech Chuchala from Poland.
Yazeed Al-Raijhi from Saudi Arabia holding currently 5th place in SWRC comes to Estonia with Ford Fiesta S2000. Karl Kruuda who was 6th overall last year in SWRC will make his first start in this year. Driving Ford Fiesta S2000 Kruuda is also preparing for Neste Oil Rally Finland where he will drive the same car.
As always, there will be good competition in 2WD classes and in National group will be lot of BMW Power. WRC and IRC series driver Toni Gardemeister will be one of the BMW drivers in auto24 Rally Estonia.
auto24 Rally Estonia is also a round of FIA Historic European Sporting Rally Championship and total 39 crews are competing in Otepää. This is the good opportunity to see history of rally as many classical cars are present in Otepää. Lancia 037, Austin Healey Sprite, Ford Escort, Porsche 911, Renault 5 Alpine are some examples. Two Europan champions from last year are also competing in Otepää – Miroslav Janota (Opel Cadett C GT/E) and Enrico Brazzoli (Porsche 911 RS).
auto 24 Rally Estonia 2012 is held on 20-21th of July. It is the round of Estonian, Latvian, Baltic and NEZ Rally Championships and for the first time a round of FIA Historic European Sporting Rally Championship.
More information: www.rallyestonia.ee