Armstrong and Hall claim opening round of Junior WRC
Jon Armstrong and Phil Hall claimed their maiden FIA Junior WRC Championship event win on Croatia Rally after a thrilling 2021 curtain raiser.
Armstrong’s victory came following an eventful series of stages proving that the 2021 FIA Junior WRC Championship could be the most unpredictable yet. The 2018 Esports WRC Champion delivered consistent and mature stage times on Friday, eventually ending the day third.
Martin Koci let his experience do the talking throughout on the opening day of Croatia Rally, taking the lead and keeping it with minimal mistakes. Saturday proved eventful for the Slovakian who hit a rock, damaging his wheel, losing a costly 2 and a half minutes and with it, his Junior WRC lead.
At the end of Saturday Armstrong led the Junior field by 22.5 seconds over Lauri Joona, with Sesks third, Koci fourth and William Creighton Fifth. Joona would try to fight back on Sunday’s stages but wasn’t able to match Armstrong’s pace. A mistake on stage 18 saw the Finn slip to third as Martins Sesks slotted into second.
Stage 19 was ultimately cancelled for the Junior WRC crews which meant Armstrong had a 37.9 second lead going into the final stage of the rally, alleviating the pressure slightly in guiding his Fiesta Rally4 home to his debut FIA Junior WRC event victory. Armstrong only finished sixth on the final stage, but it was enough to seal his maiden FIA Junior WRC victory on Croatia Rally. Sesks put on a mature and measured drive in Croatia, keeping himself out of trouble to build a good rhythm and finish second but without any stage win points.
Jon Armstrong said:
“Part of me wanting to come back this year was proving to myself I can still do it while proving to others who don’t think I’ve got it anymore. I mean it’s fantastic to do it, it’s been a really tough rally, but I’ve only done two- and a-bit rallies in that last four years so to come and win a Junior WRC event is amazing. Big, big thanks to everyone who got me here, I know it’s been really, really tricky and a big battle but a massive thanks to those that made it happen.”