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WRC is ready for an high-speed summer

Poland, Latvia and Finalnd in a row mark the return on fast gravel stages after tricky and narrow Sardinia’s roads. Sesks and Pajari will debut on rally1 cars

The WRC is ready to enter the summer season, preparing for a trio of races with fairly similar characteristics. We return to fast gravel roads in Poland, Latvia, and Finland, where the Rally1 cars and championship contenders await.

After a season start with very different races, culminating in the challenging and narrow Sardinian gravel stages, the Rally1 cars can now unleash their full potential on the compact and extremely fast roads of central and northern Europe.

Elfyn Evans

The three races from late June to early August will be crucial for the standings, but more importantly, they will provide significant technical insights. The top-class cars will be in their perfect habitat, with aerodynamics playing a fundamental role due to the high speeds of the Polish, Latvian, and Finnish special stages. Fans will finally see the Rally1 cars express their full potential and operate at maximum efficiency; undoubtedly, the time gaps may be larger because when the average speed increases, the champions’ talent becomes clear and crystalline.

It’s also easy to expect a greater gap between the Rally1 and Rally2 cars, the vehicles of the WRC2 protagonists, which have inferior mechanical and aerodynamic performance. However, in races with a relatively lower average speed, they significantly reduce the gap to the top cars.

Is Ott Tänak main Neuville’s challenger?

Thanks to the new and much-discussed points allocation system, the championship is more open than ever, and the challenge for the WRC 2024 is becoming increasingly exciting. Neuville leads the standings with 122 points, followed by Tanak and Evans at 104. However, we shouldn’t forget about Ogier, who has 92 points and will start in Poland with the Toyota Yaris, which he shares with Kalle Rovanpera (absent from the Polish gravel stages).

Neuville will need to maintain high concentration because his rivals have shown signs of recovery, starting with Tanak. The Estonian seems to have regained his form from better days, securing victory in Sardinia. At the moment, he appears well-positioned to challenge his teammate in the race for what would be Hyundai’s first driver’s title. Keep an eye on Evans as well—he’s eager to return to his favorite surface, the fast gravel, and is determined to fight for victory in the upcoming races.

Martis Sesks during his first Rally1 test

In Poland, there will be an important debut—the Latvian driver Martins Sesks in the Ford Puma Rally1. Sesks is competing in the FIA ERC season with a MRF-tired Toyota Yaris Rally2 and is a driver to watch for the future. In the subsequent Rally Latvia, Finnish driver Sami Pajari will make his debut in the Rally1 category. He has been promoted to an official driver in the Toyota Gazoo Racing team for this race after his impressive performance in the WRC2 category in Sardinia with the Yaris Rally2