Prime Minister Jüri Ratas has wished all competitors of the inaugural WRC Rally Estonia success and thanked organizers for making the international event become a reality.
"Greetings to the rally weekend, Ratas wrote on his social media account Friday evening, following the winners' podium official opening at the Estonian National Museum (ERM) just outside Tartu.
"It is a great pleasure to be able to say the work done for many years in organizing Rally Estonia has been outstanding, and has brought the official stage of the World Rally Championship to Estonia," he went on.
While 2020 is the first full-calendar WRC event in Estonia – and the first anywhere since the coronavirus pandemic began internationally in spring – Rally Estonia had long been an annual event and in more recent years was seen as a candidate for full WRC status.
Ratas added that the event: "...is powerful recognition for all involved. In addition to the organizers, friends of Rally Estonia have also earned at least as much thanks – those who have contributed to the success of the previous races with their interest and support."
"I sincerely hope that the rally weekend will be successful for our sportspeople, that we will all stay healthy and the Estonian WRC [event] will become a tradition for many years to come," Ratas added, expressing gratitude to private sector firms who helped the event – at one time hanging in the balance, and even temporarily cancelled – come to fruition and wishing local heroes and reigning world champions Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja, as well as all other competitors, all the best for the race.
A short shakedown stage earlier on Friday was won by Ott Tänak; an equally short Stage One of the full race took place just after 7.00 p.m. Estonian time Friday, with Finn Esapekka Lappi andd veteran driver Sebastien Ogier tying for first place.
Editor: Andrew Whyte