Sami Pajari ended the season-opener with strong result at Rally Sweden when he and co-driver Marko Salminen drove their Ford Fiesta R2T19 to a fourth place finish.
Thursday’s super special in Karlstad eventually turned into a shakedown, which everyone had to complete at least once. Pajari chose the tactic of driving very quietly through the shakedown and saving the tires as good as possible for the rally itself.
The opening-stage on Friday did not go so well as he finished sixth, almost half a minute behind Tom Kristensson. The car set up was changed before the next special stage and the result was the fourth fastest time in the class.
After three special stages he was fifth, but the gap had already reached 53 seconds. At the end of Friday, at the Torsby Sprint with a stage of less than three kilometers in full gravel, the power steering broke and the gap to the top increased by eight seconds.
“After the first special test, little adjustments were made to make the car more comfortable for these challenging conditions. Even the tires have been reasonably comfortable at the end of each stage.” Pajari continued.
On Saturday the program featured the same four special stages and the day started faster, the result again was a fourth place finish for Parjari. At the end of Saturday on the Torsby Sprint stage the same power steering problems arose.
“The car has been good today, the right settings have been found, and it feels like we have finally been able to drive at our own level after yesterday’s difficulties. Finally we got the bases done and it feels good.” Parjari commented.
On Saturday, the organisers announced that the Sunday’s running would be shortened to only the special stage left was the 21 kilometre Power Stage at Likenäs. The rain changed the last snowy sections to ice and the gravel sections to the mud.
“Running this last one wisely and taking no big risks. Joona got annoyed when he had a great rally up until the tyre went. All in all, a good ascendant rally from us and getting really happy with the result.” Pajari added.
“All in all a good race from Sami. Sure, it’s a bit frustrating to get Friday’s settings right, but there’s a lot to learn in many areas. A flawless rally, base time and pace on Saturday and Sunday will provide a lot of positive energy for the future.” Kristian Sohlberg, driver coach, said.