Martins Sesks made history by becoming the first ever Latvian to win a FIA Junior WRC rally following a dramatic event at the inaugural Rally Estonia.
Going into the final day, home favourite Robert Virves led the way with an 11-second lead over Sesks whilst Finnish youngster Sami Pajari trailed by 27 seconds in third. Virves would ultimately relinquish his lead following a puncture on stage 14, losing 45 seconds in the process and was relegated to third, in turn allowing Sesks to take the win having not put a foot wrong all weekend.
Pajari collected the most stage wins of any Junior WRC driver on Rally Estonia, totalling eight stage wins on his way to second on the event.
British driver Ruairi Bell claimed his best finish so far with a well-earned fourth position after delivering a faultless drive with consistent stage times with reigning British Rally Champion Matt Edwards alongside him in the co-driver seat.
Rally Sweden winner Tom Kristensson had an early retirement due to a crankshaft failure following a heavy landing on Saturday, before there was more drama when Tom Kern suffered two punctures when only carrying one spare, forcing him to retire also.
Kern had just won a hat-trick of stages on Saturday and was looking set for victory until he had his punctures.
Sesks now leads the championship by eight points over Pajari with one round remaining. He said: “This weekend was quite an incredible rally for everyone because the stages were really, really rough. Even the guys in R5s were saying it is rough so imagine how rough it is in the Rally4 car.“
“You had to be really technical all the time to see where you could drive fast and where you needed to take it easy to save your car and make it to the finish. I am really happy, we started on the safe side yesterday and started to gain speed and everything.“
He added: “We had a good battle with Ken who was flat out from the first stage. He was really fast I would say he was even faster than me as it was a rally of experience and he has it here. Overall I still can’t put it into words the feeling I have right now, but all the hard work I have put in, and after the struggles of last year, it is finally paying off for me.”
Sesks will look to hold onto his lead at the rescheduled Rally Italy which will be the final round for Junior WRC 2020 on 8-11 October.
Maciej Woda, Junior WRC Team Director, had high praise for Rally Estonia as well as the performances from the Junior WRC drivers:“Massive congratulations to Martins taking the victory, it’s great to see a Baltic driver doing so well and Latvia finally having a FIA Junior WRC winner. Robert gave a hard fight throughout the entire rally and should be very proud of what he has achieved for his first ever WRC event, it was an incredible performance and he has done Estonia proud.“
“Sami Pajari is proving what so many people have said in terms of how talented he is after taking the most stage wins on this rally. I would also like to say a special well done to Ruairi Bell who faced exceptional circumstances heading into this rally so to finish fourth is a really good job.”