The fast Estonian gravel with a number of jumps is one of the pearls in the World Rally Championship calendar. It is popular with crews for its high speed requiring flawless car control, a surface with minimal risk of punctures and great spectators. The Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 crews celebrated first and second place in the WRC2 category at this year's Rally Estonia.
The fast Estonian tracks were good for the Fabia from the start. The opening technical stage around the service area was won by Mikołaj Marczyk and co-driver Szymon Gospodarczyk on Thursday evening. Oliver Solberg and co-driver Elliott Edmondson took the lead in the category during the first stage on Friday. By the service break, the Toksport WRT crew had built up a lead of over 10 seconds over their teammates Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen and it was clear that Estonia track suited Solberg. His speed was admirable during Friday. Unfortunately, he hit a stone hidden in the edge of a rutted track during the afternoon and damaged his car's suspension; a damage which could not be repaired on track.
With the repaired Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, the Swedish-British duo started again on the second day of the event and immediately became the fastest crew in the WRC2 category again. Solberg and Edmondson won almost half of the 21 stages of the rally. Despite a penalty on Friday, Solberg took at least one championship point from Estonia thanks to his third place on the final Power stage. "I have to say it was a very disappointing weekend. But we were fast, and that's the most important thing in the end," commented Solberg.
Another Toksport WRT crew, Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen in the same car, benefited from Solberg's mistake. They adopted a more careful and cautious tactic with less risk from the start and it seems to have been a very good approach. For the rest of the rally they maintained a lead of around 15 seconds over the Finnish crew of Sami Pajari/Enni Mälkönen. "We kept a constant speed throughout the weekend. After Oliver and Elliott had withdrawn, we just tried to keep as much of a lead as possible. This strategy worked perfectly," Mikkelsen summed up his second WRC2 win of the season. Mikkelsen took home a total of 27 points from Estonia for the win and two Power Stage points, which moved him up to second place in the overall WRC2 category standings.
Sami Pajari/Enni Mälkönen eventually took second place in the WRC2 category and won the WRC2 Challenger category. Their Toksport WRT teammates Marco Bulacia/Diego Vallejo and Mikołaj Marczyk/Szymon Gospodarczyk took care of the complete podium for the Škoda cars in this sub-category. The WRC Masters Cup sub-category, reserved for drivers over 50 years of age, was won by Alexander Villanuevo and José Murado, who took the win after accidents by Kremer and Miele. The Spanish crew of the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 took the overall lead in this sub-category with their second win of the season.
The WRC2 crews will be staying on the fast and smooth gravel stages as they head to Jyväskylä for the upcoming Rally Finland in just two weeks' time (3rd – 6th August 2023).