The first full day back in action for the World Rally Championship on Rally Estonia’s debuting stages was considered a success, and there’s more of that to come on Sunday.
It will be a shorter final day of a world championship event than usual, but few things are sticking to norms in 2020, with six stages and 52.8 competitive miles to decide the winner of the fourth WRC round of the season.
Here is a guide of what to expect from Sunday’s stages.
SS12/15 Arula (4.33 miles)
Arguably the most famous stage in Estonia. Only half of the six miles from last year is used today though, and there’s a mile or so bolted on the end that’s new (it’s part of the Tartu ski marathon, a section known as the Hill of Bears). Remember Elfyn Evans’ jump from last year – the one that forced him out of Finland and Germany with an injured back? That’s in here, about half way through. Before the crews even get to that tricky jump in an s-bend sequence, there’s a famous double jump downhill to be dealt with.
This will be one of the fastest stages of the event, but it’s still got the odd narrow section in too – including one bit which goes through somebody’s front garden.
SS13/16 Kaagvere (9.61 miles)
The beginning and the end of this stage have never seen rally cars before. And the beginning is as narrow and as tricky as anything else on the route. A wheel wrong here will spell immediate disaster.
In the middle there’s a chunk of the Otepää test from yesterday and a tightening right-hander which Ott Tänak won’t forget after nearly binning it here in 2014. The new section at the end runs through a lovely forested section.
SS14/17 Kambja (12.46 miles)
Starting from Maaritsa village, this stage has been a Rally Estonia staple for years. And last season it caused more than its fair share of puncture problems with Markko Märtin, Oliver Solberg and Nikolay Gryazin all suffering deflations. The middle section is one of the most beautiful vistas on the route just after going through Lutike. It’s another mix of high-speed and slow and technical roads flashing through farms and fields. The latter part of the stage will hold painful memories for Takamoto Katsuta after he went off the road in the same spot Gryazin’s brother Vasiliy crashed.
The last section of the stage – and Rally Estonia – is narrower, but toweringly quick through the last mile. And, in terms of jumps, the organisers have saved an absolute corker for the finish. Watch these cars fly into the finish area.