The first ever female 1-2 in WRC history, co-drivers Mälkönen & Thulin dominate Rally Estonia
Rally Estonia was a massive success for female co-drivers Enni Mälkönen and Julia Thulin, who came home with an impressive 1-2 in the JWRC category, writing WRC history.
Rally Estonia - the latest round of the Junior WRC championship - featured gravel roads, huge jumps and speed track for the driver pairings tackling the 24 special stages over four days. And among them, Sami Pajari and co-driver Enni Mälkönen as well as home racer Robert Virves and Swedish co-driver Julia Thulin were certainly among the protagonists of a historic achievement. Virves/Thulin joined ERC Rally Poland lately, using English pace notes for the first time ever and finished 13th while winning their class. "This is something I have fought against for several years and to be able to do this with Robert will be very fun as he is a good and potent driver" - said Julia Thulin. "We finish the last race with good results so now we will try to get the same pace and feeling before Rally Estonia." And it would be a battle between those two teams during the Eastonian rally: the first day was the perfect start for Robert Virves/Julia Thulin as they won three out of four stages, while Sami Pajari/Enni Mälkönen were always close behind. On the second loop, it was the Finnish duo that set the pace while Robert/Julia dropped down to fourth after they bent their suspension when hitting a stone in SS8. On Saturday, Sami Pajari and Enni Mälkönen worked through a risk-free day with a good pace but then some drama shocked the Finnish duo in the afternoon stages, when a rear differential failure prevented them from using the handbrake on tight corners and they struggled a bit as they tried to minimize their time loss to the second team, despite enjoying a good gap. That was the time Robert Virves and Julia Thulin came back and won seven out of the nine stages to remain P3 before the final day. After Sami Pajari and Enni Mälkönen lost their gap due to technical issues, they had to overcome the challenges of Sunday - but they were fast enough to stay ahead of the charging Robert Virves and Julia Thulin who won most of the stages of the final day. Overall, they won 17 stages of the rally - which smashed the former record of the most Junior WRC wins in a single rally by Sébastien Ogier in Rally Jordan 2008. Pajari and Mälkönen held on to the lead to win their latest rally and moved into first place in the championship. Virves and Thulin came home in second after their stage victory hunt and were just 14,9 seconds down the road at the end of the rally. With this result, both ladies wrote history as it was the first female 1-2 ever in the history of WRC. Before the next and final Junior WRC event at Rally Greece from 8th to 11th September (with double points on the table) Sami Pajari/Enni Mälkönen lead the rankings with 85 points ahead of Armstrong (85) and Virves (84). Pajari and Mälkönen will join WRC Secto Rally Finland in a WRC2 category Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo to continue their WRC2 experience, while Robert Virves will switch back to ERC at Rally di Roma Capitale but this time without Julia Thulin in the co-driving seat.