WRC Rally Estonia: Everything you need to know

The World Rally Championship returns to Europe as Estonia hosts the seventh round of the 2022 season this weekend. Here's the key information you need to know.

WRC Rally Estonia: Everything you need to know

Following the brutal gravel of the Kenyan Savannah last month, the WRC teams and drivers head to Estonia to tackle its smooth, undulating and fast gravel roads that have drawn comparison with those seen on Rally Finland.

Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera returns to the scene of his breakthrough WRC win last year with a 65 point championship lead over Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville, after recording a fourth victory of 2022 in Kenya. There Rovanpera clinched his sixth WRC career win, despite starting first on the road, by 52.8s from team-mate Elfyn Evans as Toyota completed a 1-2-3-4 - its first top-four sweep since the 1993 Safari Rally.

Neuville finished fifth, but limited the damage after claiming five bonus points for winning the rally-ending powerstage. His team-mate Ott Tanak remains third in the standings, but retired from the Safari Rally due to mechanical issues, so the Rally Sardinia winner will be eager to bounce back on home soil.

Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta heads to Estonia having moved up to fourth in the championship standings after claiming his first WRC podium for 12 months, with third in Kenya leapfrogging him above Evans.

The Welshman is now sixth in the standings, just behind Craig Breen, who continues to lead M-Sport Ford’s championship hopes in fifth. The Irishman took second place in Estonia when driving for Hyundai last year.

This weekend sees the return of Esapekka Lappi in the third Toyota GR Yaris vacated by eight-time world champion Sebastien Ogier, who is contesting a partial campaign. Meanwhile at M-Sport, Pierre-Louis Loubet rejoins the team for his fourth start of the year, after sitting out Safari Rally Kenya.

What is Rally Estonia

Rally Estonia is the Baltic nation’s largest motorsport event, which originated in 2010. The gravel rally became a fixture on the European Rally Championship calendar in 2014, before joining the World Rally Championship schedule for the first time in 2020.

The rally, based out of Estonia’s second city Tartu, features smooth gravel roads featuring several crests and jumps which are paired with more technical sections on wide and narrow forest roads. The rally is a true test of speed on gravel.

Rovanpera's Estonia 2021 win opened the floodgates for the Finn, who has won four times this year and leads the WRC standings

Rovanpera's Estonia 2021 win opened the floodgates for the Finn, who has won four times this year and leads the WRC standings

Photo by: Toyota Racing

Rally Estonia winners

Estonian rally idol and 2019 world champion Ott Tanak holds the record for the most Rally Estonia victories with four (2014, 2018-2020). Tanak won the inaugural WRC edition of the rally in 2020, which marked his first triumph driving for Hyundai.

Last year Kalle Rovanpera dominated the event to claim his first WRC win, becoming the youngest-ever winner of a WRC round aged 20. The Finn has won six of the last 12 WRC rallies stretching back to Estonia last year.

The inaugural Rally Estonia in 2010 was won by former factory Subaru, Ford and Peugeot driver Markko Martin.

Rally Estonia itinerary

This year’s edition will be contested over 24 stages, comprising 314.26km across four days of competitive action.

Thursday 14 July (1 stage - 1.66km)
Shakedown - begins 0701 BST - 0901 local
Stage 1 Super Special Tartu- begins 1838 BST - 2038 local
Friday 15 July (8 stages - 139.18km)
Stage 2 - Stage 9 - begins 0545 BST - 0745 local
Saturday 16 July (9 stages - 95.40km)
Stage 10 - Stage 18 - begins 0703 BST - 0903 local
Sunday 17 July (6 stages - 78.02km)
Stage 19 - Stage 24 - Final stage begins 1218 BST - 1418 local

Neuville will be the second driver into the stages

Neuville will be the second driver into the stages

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Rally Estonia Entry List (Rally1) - Road order

Rally Estonia will feature 42 entries headlined by 11 Rally1 cars.

#69 Kalle Rovanpera/Jonne Halttunen - Toyota Gazoo Racing - GR Yaris Rally1
#11 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe - Hyundai Motorsport - i20 N Rally1
#8 Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja - Hyundai Motorsport - i20 N Rally1
#18 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston - Toyota Gazoo Racing - GR Yaris Rally1
#42 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle - M-Sport Ford World Rally Team - Puma Rally1
#33 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin - Toyota Gazoo Racing - GR Yaris Rally1
#44 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson - M-Sport Ford World Rally Team - Puma Rally1
#7 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landis - M-Sport Ford World Rally Team - Puma Rally1
#4 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm- Toyota Gazoo Racing - GR Yaris Rally1
#2 Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson - Hyundai Motorsport - i20 N Rally1
#16 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria - M-Sport Ford World Rally Team - Puma Rally1

The field also includes former Hyundai factory WRC driver Hayden Paddon, who will join the WRC2 class in a Rally2 i20 N.

What’s new for WRC in 2022?

This year marks the introduction of new Rally1 regulations, designed to move the WRC into a much more sustainable future and to attract new manufacturers. They have resulted in Hyundai, Toyota and M-Sport Ford designing and building all-new cars around a new safer, steel spaceframe chassis.

The biggest change to the cars is the introduction of a mandatory 100kW hybrid unit coupled to the 1.6-litre turbocharged internal combustion engine, the only key component carried over from the previous generation of cars. In tandem, this will allow the powertrain to develop 500bhp to be used in short bursts across every stage.

Cars will be up 70kg heavier than their predecessors, mainly due to the addition of the hybrid system. In total, Rally1 machines weigh in at approximately 1260kg.

Rally1 hybrid cars will be making their debuts in Estonia

Rally1 hybrid cars will be making their debuts in Estonia

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

The new regulations have effectively abolished extra aerodynamic devices such as wings and flicks being added to the bodywork outside of the front splitter and rear wing. The overall downforce created, and its effect on the car, has been reduced by approximately 15% compared to the previous generation of vehicle.

Trick centre differentials used to finetune handling are now banned in favour of a simpler front and rear mechanical limited-slip differentials, offering a fixed 50:50 torque split between the front and rear wheels. Suspension travel has been reduced to 270mm.

How does the Rally1 hybrid system work?

Drivers will have the use of hybrid power during every stage, with power boosts activated by the throttle pedal, while further boosts will be unlocked through energy regeneration under braking during stages.

Pilots will be required to regenerate 30 kilojoules of energy before another boost is granted for use the next time they touch the throttle pedal.

The extra 130 horsepower is delivered through the use of three bespoke homologated engine maps selected by teams, depending on the type of stage and conditions.

Determined by the FIA and event organisers, drivers will be required to navigate parts of road sections and around event service parks in full electric mode.

In full electric mode, the car has a range of 20km. Its 3.9KWH battery, operating up to 750 volts, can be plugged in and recharged in the service park within 30 minutes. The hybrid unit can withstand an impact of 70G.

The cars are powered by a 100% sustainable fuel.

Reigning WRC champion Ogier is sitting out this year's Estonia event, with the third Toyota taken over by Lappi

Reigning WRC champion Ogier is sitting out this year's Estonia event, with the third Toyota taken over by Lappi

Photo by: Toyota Racing

How can I follow Rally Estonia?

Autosport will be providing reports, interviews and reaction.

Motorsport.tv will also have regular highlights both during and after each WRC round in 2022.

Pay television

WRC Plus All Live will provide live coverage from every stage. BT Sport will live action and provide daily highlights shows from every event this season.

Free to air television UK

ITV4 will broadcast highlights on Tuesday 19 July.

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