Rally Estonia will remain a part of the World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar in 2021, set to take place in Tartu and southern Estonia on July 15-18. At a press conference on Wednesday, the rally organizers announced that Rally Estonia will also be a WRC event in 2022.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) anoounced: "The 2020 rally was a fantastic experience, it was a great success, it was something truly special. In the last two years, we have shown innovative solutions to be offered to the entire world. In the coming two years, we can do the same. We have received confirmation that Estonia will get to organize a WRC event here for the next two years. It shows trust in the Estonian organizers. The Estonian Health Board (Terviseamet) also admired the professionalism displayed by organizers. The event allows us to introduce our nation and athletes to the entire world."
Rally Estonia head organizer Urmo Aava added: "When we started dreaming of it ten years ago, it seemed an unbelievable dream. Why did we get here? We want to be better each day, each year. We dealt with substantive things and will continue to do so. I dare say that we can get better in every aspect."
Aava pointed to Estonians' resiliency and a desire to be the best: "This might seem like an Estonian poking at himself, but we are still not good enough, but we can see it is possible to get much better. Tradition is an important keyword and a lack of motivation is no issue for us Estonians. We want to be the best. A small country and small people must be the best to break through in the world. It is in our DNA."
CEO of the Estonian Autosport Union (EAL) Janis Kaal said the best days on Estonian autosport have arrived. "The good thing is it will get even better. The union's goal is to ensure sustainablity. Looking at the previous and coming years, it is a delight to see that what started last year, especially in the youth ranks, will continue. Everything is good in that regard and we can encourage young people to come on. We have to praise Rally Estonia organizers, setting an example for our youth," Kaal said.
Aava added that the organizers await the coronavirus to ease up, but they are focused on holding a full rally event in 2021 and 2022. He added that a continuation of tradition is a high bar but the team of organizers will do what they can to make Rally Estonia as succesful as it was in 2020.
WRC Rally Estonia 2020 even won an award for their organization of a rally event in three months during a worldwide pandemic. The Asahi Kasei Team Spirit Award "rewards those organisations which achieved outstanding feats in 2020 or overcame adversity through sheer grit and determination from those often unsung heroes behind the scenes", according to the WRC's webpage.
FIA rally director Yves Matton added that Rally Estonia was an important step for 2020 as it was the first event since the coronavirus halted the season in spring.
Jona Siebel, managing director of the WRC, added that the promotion is very happy with Rally Estonia and its ability to adapt and organize a large-scale rally event during tough times.
Urmo Aava admitted that the WRC series is the fulfillment of a long-time dream. "We have been praised a lot but I think an event such as this can only take place if we cooperate and I think it is reasonable to praise all our partners," Aava said, adding that the government was a big part of organizing the rally.
He also noted that next year's Rally Estonia will take place on much tighter and more technical roads.
The first ever full-calendar WRC round in Estonia concluded on September 6 with Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja dominating the 17 stages on South Estonian roads. The pair of Estonians finished ahead of second-place Craig Breen by 22.2 seconds after a great showing over the weekend rally. Prime Minister Jüri Ratas attended the event on September 5 and said the government would support future WRC events in Estonia in the future.
The previous world champion pair of Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) finished the season third after an unusual final event in Monza, Italy.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste