As promised, Rally Estonia will run a full-length World Rally Championship round in July, with no stage the same as last year.
The 2021 edition, the first as part of a two-year deal for WRC calendar inclusion announced earlier this year, will be held across the July 15-18 weekend and run close to 200 competitive miles – 25% more than in 2020. The Tartu-based event will include 24 stages as part of a route that totals 807 miles.
Beyond extending the event to three days of action, with SS1 and shakedown on Thursday (July 15), the other main changes to the route are two Saturday stages that take crews into a new region of Estonia that the event has never visited previously and a revised powerstage, which brings competitors to a finish alongside the service park at Raadi Airfield and close to the Estonian National Museum.
Having run all the action – except for a Friday night Tartu superspecial, which remains in place this year – over the weekend in 2020, the Rally Estonia organizer talked of its desire to expand to a three-day route if it was on the calendar again this year. It is back. And it is delivering on that promise.
While the precise route has yet to be confirmed, the organizer stated: “No Special Stage will be 100% the same as last year.”
Clerk of the course Silver Kütt said his team had learned plenty after a last-minute decision to step in and run Rally Estonia as a WRC round in 2020 – the original WRC promotional event had been canceled in February following a disagreement with the Estonian Autosport Union.
“The 2020 edition of Rally Estonia was a big challenge for us in many ways,” said Kütt.
“During the preparation and the event itself, we introduced several innovations together with the FIA, the WRC Promoter and the Estonian state. In the process, we all learned a lot.
“We have done our own analyses and in 2021 we can definitely do it better by planning ahead. One example here is certainly the management of COVID-19 and the activities that go with it.”
Winner Ott Tänak averaged 73mph on last year’s event, but Kütt explained that this year’s route had been designed to lower that speed.
He added: “Regarding the competitive element, the rally will be one day longer in 2021 and we are introducing new special stages in new areas.
“Average speeds are rather a bit lower than in the previous year and the stages involve more forest roads.”