The 2022 FIA Junior World Rally Championship will be kicking-off their campaign in the snowy landscapes of Rally Sweden this weekend and brings a hugely competitive entry list with it.
For the first time in the history of the championship, it will be using four-wheel-drive rally cars as they’re switching from the front-wheel-drive Ford Fiesta Rally4 to the all-new entry-level Ford Fiesta Rally3, prepared by M-Sport Poland.
Rally Sweden also marks first time in two years the championship is competing on snow and ice, where the local talent Tom Kristensson won last time out.
Maciek Woda, JWRC Manager is delighted to start the new era with a full-snow rally in Sweden: “It is so good to be back in Sweden to kick off another season of FIA Junior WRC. It’s very important for us to feature every surface that is part of the WRC calendar and starting in Sweden is quite special. We have a very big year ahead of us in Junior WRC, we are now using the Fiesta Rally3 which is homologated to Rally3, the FIA’s entry-level category for four-wheel-drive cars.”
“We have seen some very exciting performances from this car in various championships in the last year, but I am really excited to see what the fastest youngsters in the world can do with it.”
The entrants for the season-start of the 2022 campaign contains of six strong drivers, with five of them returning for the championship.
Headlining the list is the reigning champion Sami Pajari, Lauri Joona, Jon Armstrong, William Creighton, Robert Virves and newcomer McRae Kimathi.
Woda commented on Pajari’s return to the championship: “It’s been 15 years since we had a defending champion in Junior WRC with Patrik Sandell in 2007 and we have only ever had one driver win the championship twice, which was Per Gunnar Andersson in 2004 and 2007.
“Sami Pajari could become the only driver in Junior WRC history to successfully defend his championship this year and I think that is an exciting motivational factor for all this year’s competitors.
“Last year’s championship had some incredible fights and competition, we have quite a few competitors continuing this year so let the battle continue I say!”
Missing out in Rally Sweden is the 2021 FIA ERC3 Junior Champion Jean-Baptiste Franceschi, who has suffered serious injuries after a crash in November and Panagiotis Roustemis who is unable to compete due to personal reasons, both will be coming to Rally Croatia.