Estonia: Virves and Linnamäe in the fight for victory

As was to be expected, the Estonians led the debates during this first stage. Robert Virves and Georg Linnamäe offered a splendid duel of which the first named is for the moment the leader for 1''. Discovering the terrain, Mathieu Franceschi did not have an easy day. He ranks 9th.  

Published on 06/07/2024 à 19:58

Loïc ROCCI

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Estonia: Virves and Linnamäe in the fight for victory

Robert Virves will start the second stage of the Estonian Rally 1'' ahead of Georg Linnamäe (Photo: Red Bull)

Integrated into the calendarERC after 4 editions in WRC, rally from Estonia was on the 4the European meeting of the 2024 season. Located in Otepää, 45 km south of the city of Tartu, the event opened with 10 special stages and 119,32 km timed.

Having started under the sun, Saturday also saw periods of rain. This changeable weather did not dampen the enthusiasm of the two Estonians. The duel between Georg Linnamäe and Robert Virves was indeed very close. Taking the leadership chair as soon as the first forest section, the pilot of the Toyota The orange Yaris Rally2 suffered attacks from its compatriot who managed to take the lead for the first time during SS5. The former junior world champion then had a 1”5 lead over Linnamäe, but he was unable to maintain his position. From SS6, Georg, who is racing in his region, regained his lead against Robert who had chosen to use used tires. Linnamäe increased the tempo again and pushed his rival back to 4”8 after SS8. Using new tires at the end of the day, Virves made a big impact on SS9 to regain first place with a margin of 0s. Competing one last time in the final stretch, Virves managed to increase his lead to 9''. Suffice to say that the battle will be very good again tomorrow.

For 3e On the podium, Nikolay Gryazin showed a nice burst of speed before falling into line. The Bulgarian from Citroën was overtaken by Mikko Heikkilä. On this very fast and bumpy terrain, the Finn felt a bit at home, winning SS6, but at the end of the day he was unable to respond to the attack of the C3 which took over the 3e ranked in the Elva superspecial (SS10) by 0”1.

Much further down the rankings, Hayden Paddon first paid for his mediocre position in the starting order. Winner of the superspecial on Friday evening, the reigning champion was then lucky to be able to continue after a violent landing (SS2). Continuing his effort, the New Zealander was able to move up from 17e up to 7e limiting the damage. While the Kiwi was able to rely on his knowledge of the field, this was not the case for Mathieu Franceschi. Handicapped by a poor qualification, the Frenchman never managed to gain confidence. In the dry as well as in the wet, his lack of experience in Estonia prevented him from joining the fight for a result more in line with his talent. At the end of the stage (SS9), Martins Sesks' puncture and Jon Armstrong's hit allowed the Habs to gain two places. 9e Saturday evening, he will benefit from a better starting order for Sunday.

The last stage will consist of only 4 times with 68,32 km.

Ranking at the end of the first stage

 

Loïc ROCCI

Journalist specializing in rallying past, present and future... and with a southern accent

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