Jan Solans holds a nine-point lead over Tom Kristensson at the top of the 2019 FIA Junior World Rally Championship as the series heads to Finland this weekend.
The close championship battle also sees Dennis Rådström in contention for the overall title win as the young Swede is just a further seven points back after the opening three evens of the season.
A total of 14 entries, the highest so far in this year’s JWRC, will enter the 23 stages of the Finnish event which includes new to the championship Sami Pajari, who has won the AKK Flying Finn Future Star award and Aleksi Röyhkiö.
So far this season, it’s been a tight battle at the top, with each of the three rounds so far ending up with a different winner; Kristensson, Solans and Julius Tannert the three men to have taken a victory so far.
As well as championship points for finishing rallies, another aspect to each driver’s championship challenge is down to how many stages they each win on each event. So far, it’s Rådström and Solans with the most bonus points picked up with 19 stage wins each in 2019.
Championship leader Solans said on the upcoming Finnish event: “It’s time to face Rally Finland, one of the most difficult rallies for me, it is a rally that is usually difficult when you participate for the first time. Right now, I’m the leader of the championship and if I want to win, I need to get a good result here.”
While his championship rival Kristensson added ahead of this weekend: “Rally Finland! Formula 1 on gravel! I like the fast roads, character and atmosphere. If I get the feeling that I want and think, then the rally will be great and for sure really fun.”
Behind Tannert in the championship table is a close battle for fifth, with Estonian Roland Poom leading British driver Tom Williams by just four points with two rounds remaining.
Williams was quoted of saying ahead of this weekend: “Phil (Hall) and I are really looking forward to driving on the legendary Finnish roads again.”
“This is one of my favourite events as it is a huge challenge to make pace notes and have commitment on such high-speed undulating roads. We need to carry on improving and learning to be better against the fierce competition in the Junior WRC.”
Other drivers who could be on for a strong result on Rally Finland include Mārtiņš Sesks, winner of three stages so far this year, Raul Badiu, Italian Enrico Oldrati and Sean Johnston.
The fourth round of the 2019 FIA Junior World Rally Championship takes place as part of Rally Finland, which begins on Thursday evening and continues throughout this weekend.