Can anybody dethrone Ola Nore jr?
After two wins from the first two rounds of this year’s Junior ERC, that’s the question on everybody’s lips.
Nore jr hasn’t been totally peerless – DirtFish-backed driver Max McRae had the better of him on pure pace last time out in Latvia, but the young Norwegian has got the job done when it mattered to firmly establish himself as the championship favorite.
With three rounds on Tarmac coming up after this weekend’s Royal Rally of Scandinavia, Nore jr will hope to make hay while the sun is shining on the fast gravel.
Opel Corsa Rally4-mounted McRae, however, is looking to stop him.
“It’s great that we showed that pace in Latvia and Royal Rally [of Scandinavia] is about continuing that,” he said.
“This week’s a fresh event though, nobody’s really driven these roads in these summer conditions – that’s good for us. It’s a more level playing field where so much is based on a good recce and a good set of notes.
“We’re going there fighting for the win.”
This one is far from a two-horse race, though. Once again, some 16 hungry youngsters have lined up for battle for round three of the series.
Victor Hansen is on home ground in his Peugeot and is yet to finish off the podium this season, much like Norbert Maior.
Roberto Daprà was a disappointing seventh in Latvia but the 22-year-old Italian’s speed is beyond question, but it could be the host of local drivers who pose the biggest threat.
Mark-Egert Tiits (Estonia), Miko Jalava (Finland) and Simon Andersson (Sweden) are season regulars in with a real shot, but interloping Swedish sensations Isak Reiersen and Patrik Hallberg will be motivated to make their mark.
There’ll even be family rivalry, as McRae’s co-driver Mac Kierans will compete against his dad Arthur who has been enlisted to guide Aoife Raftery round in her 208 Rally4.
As always, a strong array of Rally4 machines from Peugeot, Opel, Renault and M-Sport Ford will be represented as the Juniors tackle 16 fast stages across two days.