Russian driver Nikolay Gryazin will not start Rally Estonia after being denied entry to the country by government officials due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine – a decision Rally Estonia fully backs.
Estonian ministers communicated their decision to Rally Estonia director Urmo Aava, who informed the entrant. The July 14-17 event is the first World Rally Championship round to deny a Russian crew an entry.
Aava explained the decision to DirtFish, saying: “The Estonian Interior Ministry put the ban on Russian crews, along with the Estonian Culture Minister [Anneli Ott]. When they saw the entry list, they made the decision. Because of the war in Ukraine, we are not allowing them to come.
“When you look at what is going on [in Ukraine] this is just a small thing we can do. I don’t want to hide anywhere when it comes to these decisions. Who has the power to make them? The government and the government has made the decision: Russian crews will not come to Estonia.”
Gryazin and co-driver Konstantin Aleksandrov (also Russian) had been competing under the Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANA) flag and intended to drive their usual Toksport-run Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo in the Tartu-based event.
The 24-year-old Russian is third in the WRC2 standings after starting four rallies and winning Rally Italy. WRC2 crews count their best six scores from seven starts.
DirtFish has contacted Gryazin for comment.