2021 Rally Estonia form guide

We take a look at who's looking strongest ahead of the WRC's second visit to Estonia


After a big African adventure, the World Rally Championship and its supports series return to Europe this weekend for Rally Estonia. It will be the second time this event has been included in the WRC, but of the 10 editions held so far only three haven’t been won by World Rally Cars.

There’s a clear victory favorite for the Estonian fans, a certain Mr Tänak, but for the first time since its 2017 hiatus it doesn’t necessarily look like the local hero is the most likely to win.

Hyundai has been rapid on gravel of late, but luck certainly hasn’t been going the way of its drivers…

So who are the names that could deny Tänak a fourth straight Estonia win? Here’s DirtFish’s form guide to 2021 Rally Estonia.

#1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC)

Last 3 WRC results: 1st, 1st, 3rd
Last Estonia result: 3rd


Photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing

Back-to-back wins as the road sweeper on tough gravel rallies has put Ogier comfortably ahead in the points table, and also seemingly elevated him to levels of dominance last seen in his Volkswagen days with four wins from six WRC rounds in 2021.

While Estonia is less rough and more rewarding of high-speed ability, the aerodynamic abilities of the Toyota Yaris WRC have already been proven on Rally Portugal and there’s nothing to say Ogier won’t be making it three wins in a row come Sunday. The last time he did that was 2016.

If he doesn’t win, he can be relied on to bring home the points regardless, and with 13 stage wins on the gravel this year he’s proven he can win by being the fastest as well as the most composed.

Surprisingly, despite his colossal rally experience, he has only competed in Estonia twice before and on both occasions he finished almost half a minute down on Tänak.

#3 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC)

Last 3 WRC results: 31st, 8th (2nd), 10th (2nd)
Last Estonia result: 6th


It’s not been a great year for Suninen, either when he’s been keeping it on the road or when he’s thrown his car off it. As Estonia marks the start of the second half of the season, it will be crucial for him to begin on a high.

His highest WRC finish this year has only been eighth place, achieved in both a World Rally Car and in M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta Rally2, and his experience on gravel in the WRC model has been cut by crashes.

However he did finish third on Rally México in 2020, and has shown blistering pace in brief bursts elsewhere, so maybe Estonia’s flowing roads are the place for this Finn to redeem himself.

#7 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Florian Haut-Labourdette (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Last 3 WRC results: Ret, Ret, 29th
Last Estonian result: Ret


Photo: Hyundai Motorsport

The results alone show how disappointing Loubet’s first full season in a World Rally Car is going, but this rally is where he made his world championship debut in the top class in 2020 and was set for his first WRC points before a steering problem put him into retirement.

Switching to Florian Haut-Labourdette for his choice of co-driver hasn’t worked out so far, with two successive retirements alongside a navigator who had, prior to that, only co-driven a four-wheel-drive machine on one occasion outside of his native France. Estonian roads are very different to those of sunny western Europe.

Loubet had entered Rally Estonia prior to his WRC bow, contesting the event when it was a European Rally Championship round back in 2015. He came 18th overall, and second in the RC3 category driving a Citroën DS3 R3T Max.

#8 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Last 3 WRC results: 3rd, 24th, 21st
Last Estonia result: 1st


Photo: Hyundai Motorsport

Name a major Estonian rally, and Tänak has probably won it. In addition to his record four successes in the national rally, he’s also a triple Saaremaa Rally winner, two-time victor of the South Estonian and a winner of six other events in his home country. He was the Estonian Rally Champion too aged just 20, so it’s pretty clear he’s the man to beat around here.

But in half of the WRC rounds held so far in 2021 he’s failed to make the top 10, twice due to suspension issues, and he only has just over half of the points of championship leader Ogier.

On the flip side, he has 24 stage wins this year and has been in the position of rally leader for 31 stages. The only driver beating him on that metric is Ogier and that’s by just one stage more.

The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC has been driven on Estonian roads more than any of its rivals, so Tänak certainly has the kit to finally convert that dominant pace into a rally win again. As long as his suspension doesn’t break.

#11 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Last 3 WRC results: Ret, 3rd, 36th
Last Estonia result: Ret


Photo: Hyundai Motorsport

Neuville has won three asphalt rallies this year, none of which were part of the WRC, and was on a consistent gravel run too prior to Safari Rally Kenya.

He’s now going into rallies absolutely in contention for victory, after dropping down the pre-event favorites list when he changed co-drivers at the start of this year, as his relationship with Martin Wydaeghe is getting the job done on the stages.

While suffering from the same misfortune as team-mate Tänak, 2021 has been far kinder to Neuville and he has an average finishing position over seven spots higher than his team-mate as well as eight more points.

However in direct competition with Tänak in Estonia he has always come out second best, and that doesn’t bode well for this weekend.

#18 Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt (Toyota Yaris WRC)

Last 3 WRC results: 2nd, 4th, 4th
Last Estonia result: Ret

Takamoto Katsuta’s career bests are coming in thick and fast, and following a second place finish in Kenya he will surely be aiming for victory in Estonia.

Tommi Mäkinen ran Katsuta in an R5 car on Rally Estonia in 2016, another year when it was an ERC round, be he rolled. They returned in 2019 for the WRC candidate event and a heavy landing on an opening stage jump seemingly caused the cooling issues that sent him to retirement a stage later. He restarted with engine issues, so that experience wasn’t much help either.

Last year he entered the rally for the first time in one of Toyota’s World Rally Cars, but feeling a bit rusty as it was it his first rally since the global expansion of the pandemic. He was in a strong fifth place after 12 stages, but on the next one he had a big roll that knocked his confidence for some time.

It’s a different Katsuta who turns up to this event now as he’s proving he can take it to the WRC’s big boys on pace. With a road position advantage, he could make use of it as he has on 2021’s other rallies by picking up another big haul of points.

He’s finished no lower than sixth this year, an accomplishment no other driver can match.

#33 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC)

Last 3 WRC results: 10th, 2nd, 1st
Last Estonia result: 4th


Photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing

We know Elfyn Evans can win when the going gets tough on the stages, although the Safari wasn’t one of those with lengthy early repairs ultimately still ending in retirement, but he has the highest average finishing position of any driver and it is his Toyota team-mates Ogier and Katsuta who run him closest on that.

Without those Safari struggles, which he still came back from to finish 10th, it would have been Evans’ highest-scoring start to a season. The last rally also ended his enviable stat of finishing inside the top four on gravel rallies.

That run stretches back to last year’s Rally Estonia, where Evans finished fourth. He retired in the warm-up event from a high-speed crash, and the year before that he finished fourth but a heavy landing on the Arula stage put out his back and forced him out of the next three WRC rounds.

Normally he’s a driver who’s getting calculations right, but when he’s got it wrong in the past in Estonia the repercussions have gone beyond the rally. In the middle of a title fight with Ogier, he’s got to get Estonia right this time.

#42 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Last 3 WRC results: 8th, 4th, 2nd
Last Estonia result: 2nd

Craig Breen will be expected to fight for a podium in Estonia – high standards are always set for Hyundai’s WRC part-timers in the third factory car – but he hasn’t competed in the i20 Coupe WRC on gravel since last year’s event.

However he’s had a decent form of preparation in contesting the ERC’s eastern European events on gravel, and three weeks ago he finished second on Latvia’s Rally Liepāja. Nobody else has been able to do a warm-up event as they’ve been quarantining since the Safari, and then conducting small-scale tests in a tight schedule where they can.

Breen will also of course have a great starting position for Estonia, as he currently sits 10th in the standings after coming fourth and eighth on Arctic Rally Finland and Rally Croatia respectively. These factors combined could make him the favorite to be rally leader at the end of the first full day of stages, and of course you can’t forget how motivated being back in a World Rally Car makes the 31-year-old.

#44 Gus Greensmith/Chris Patterson (Ford Fiesta WRC)

Last 3 WRC results: 4th, 26th, 5th
Last Estonia result: 8th

LM062021-194_GREENSMITH (1)

The trajectory of Gus Greensmith has completely changed since Chris Patterson came in alongside him in the co-driver’s seat in April, with competitive stage times, notably improved resilience when things go wrong and of course his rally results. He matched his career-best result on Rally Portugal, then improved on that with fourth place on Rally Safari Kenya.

The pacenotes Greensmith will be using this weekend will be a world away from what he had for 2020, and that’s coming from his work with Patterson and the change in style that he has also adapted to and absorbed into his own.

But Greensmith is the least experienced of the World Rally Car runners in Estonia. His total time there comes to the week spent in the country for the 2020 rally, and by the end of that he was set to throw away his pacenotes entirely because they were just not working for him.

It’s basically a new driver returning there now, but he won’t be able to relax as M-Sport team principal Richard Millener sounded out Safari as the rally where his drivers could drive at a more controlled pace and just gain experience without pressure. Now they have to deliver results again.

#69 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC)

Last 3 WRC results: 6th, 25th, 22nd
Last Estonia result: 5th

A sensational start to the season, a dip, technical mysteries and finally a comeback of sorts in Kenya. He led the rally early on before his Toyota Yaris WRC got gobbled up by the fesh-fesh, but by ending the rally classified in sixth he still picked up his best result since February.

Kalle Rovanperä is one of the favorites because he was raised on fast gravel rallies, including the roads of Estonia. He actually won a rally in an R5 car there back when he was just 15. That’s ridiculous.

He finished second in the 2020 Rally Estonia warm-up, making it three podiums from his first five rallies in a World Rally Car, then fifth – which could’ve been second were it not for a puncture – on the world championship event.

As it’s an event that most of his rivals don’t have years of notes on, and it’s a style of rally that plays to Rovanperä’s strengths as a driver, this is his likely his best chance of taking a maiden WRC win in 2021 over even his home rally in Finland.