Rally Estonia Pace Report

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Rally Estonia Recap

It was a return to business as usual as home favourites Ott Tanak and co-driver Martin Jarveoja won Rally Estonia, the first time the event has been a round of the WRC. It was also their first win of the season, their first win as champions and their first win since moving to Hyundai.

Craig Breen surprised many doubters and looked to be thoroughly enjoying himself as he comfortably charged to second place. Sebastien Ogier completed the podium just a few seconds behind.

Following Seb were two more Toyotas with Elfyn Evans taking 4th and Kalle Rovanpera 5th. However the Finn should be a little more disappointed than the Welshman with his result.

The M-Sport Fiestas of Teemu Suninen, Esapekka Lappi and Gus Greensmith finished in 6th, 7th and 8th, although were never really challenging their competitors. The Rally2 machines of Oliver Solberg and Mads Ostberg completed the top 10.

Thierry Neuville was unfortunate to lose a wheel and an end to his hopes of finishing in the points. He could not even score on the power stage on a frustrating rally. The developing drivers Takamoto Katsuta and Pierre-Louis Loubet both had impressive rallies but a heavy roll and a technical issue respectively forced both to retire on the same stage.

See the full results at WRC.com, or an independent view of the Rally Estonia route at IGFN.

A chart showing the high, low and final classifications of each WRC driver at Rally Estonia 2020.
Overall Rally Estonia classifications with highest and lowest position for each driver through the rally.

Rally Estonia Stand Out Performances

A graphic visualising time won or lost over the stages of Rally Estonia.
Pace ‘fingerprint’ chart for each WRC driver at Rally Estonia. The distance of each stage totals over the x-axis with s/km lost down the y-axis. The areas above a driver’s line sums to the time lost.

Biggest Stage Win

By numbers Ott Tanak took the best stage win on SS3 Kanepi 1. Over the 16.8km stage he beat second place Craig Breen by a third of a second per kilometre. Most stages were closely fought with several crews within seconds of the stage winner. It’s therefore evident that a shorter rally means there is no time for napping. Interestingly though, it’s strange that the Power Stage has the fewest drivers within 1s/km of the winner Kalle Rovanpera. This must be for at least one of these reasons:

  • Some crews were easing off to finish the rally and bring the car home
  • Some crews were easing off to help teammates score championship points
  • Rovanpera was in full send beast mode

Considering he had a puncture on Kanepi where Tanak won, I prefer the third of those options and so Kalle Rovanpera wins the award. With the idea of sprint rallies as a permanent fixture being a conversation point, is there a need or room for a Power Stage on a sprint rally?

Fastest Stage

Though not quite as fast as Rally Sweden or Rally Finland, Estonia is still considered a high speed rally. Winner Tanak averaged 116.8kph over the competitive route but Seb Ogier was king of the highest speed stages, covering both the 6.97km sprint SS15 Arula 2 and longer 20.93km SS7 Prangli 2 nearing 129kph. Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanpera won the first passes fractionally short of that speed.

Firstly Finish Award

This award normally goes to the crew gaining the most places when others are falling out but in this round it must go to the M-Sport team. All 3 crews made it to the end pretty consistent without too much incident.

Obviously these are tough financial times for the underlying business and they already lost a WRC car to fire in Mexico. One naturally hopes the future of top level rally is not just sustainable but with a return to competitive at-the-limit racing in the future.

But they don’t get this award out of uplifting spirit, they get it for turning up and not pushing to the limit. Katsuta was days clear of M-Sport’s leading Fiesta at the end of Saturday. Pierre-Louis Loubet was within 0.2s/km at the same point in his first ever WRC outing. It’s just not fitting of the PushingPace ethos!

The Thanks for Coming Award

Poor Thierry Neuville was having a leisurely Sunday drive to the start line of the Power Stage. Firstly, as insurance for minimum manufacturer points should a team-mate retire. Secondly, any Power Stage points would be a boost in a uncertain championship campaign. This was all after a wide run on a bend on Saturday ripped off a wheel and ended his fight. In the end his team-mates finished 1-2 taking all the glory and headlines. His car then failed him heading into the power stage where he finished in Rally2 territory and 39th overall. The car was officially retired saving him the blushes.

Graphic visualising analysis of time lost to stage winning times.

Rally Estonia Pace Report Cards

#8 / O. Tänak & M. Järveoja / Hyundai i20

  • Overall Classification: 1st
  • Time: 1:59:53.6
  • Expected Classification (xC): 2nd
  • Average Pace: +0.136s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 99.69%
  • Stage Wins: 3/17
  • Points: 28
  • Power Stage: 3rd
  • Best Pace: The bit between the start and finish ramps. Only 3 stage wins when the Toyotas had 11 combined show his pace was always up there.
  • Nitpicking Time Loss: Surely expected to have won every stage!

#42 / C. Breen & P. Nagle / Hyundai i20

  • Overall Classification: 2nd
  • Time: 2:0015.8 (+22.2s)
  • Expected Classification (xC): 3rd
  • Average Pace: +0.231s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 99.47%
  • Stage Wins: 2/17
  • Points: 19
  • Power Stage: 5th
  • Best Pace: Went to second after the first proper stage and never gave it up, delivering a team 1-2 and with Neuville falling. Very strong all rally.
  • Nitpicking Time Loss: Could have lost 2nd place to Ogier on the final stage, IF Ogier had set the same time as Kalle Rovanpera.

#17 / S. Ogier & J. Ingrassia / Toyota Yaris

  • Overall Classification: 3rd
  • Time: 2:00:20.5 (+26.9s)
  • Expected Classification (xC): 4th
  • Average Pace: +0.251.s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 99.42%
  • Stage Wins: 5/17
  • Points: 17
  • Power Stage: 4th
  • Best Pace: Came through fastest on SS5 from first on the road. Fastest on SS7 with a tyre off the rim.
  • Nitpicking Time Loss: Lack of grip on SS4 and tyre degradation on SS11 lost seconds but nothing major. Outshone by his teammates again on the Power Stage which historically are his arena.

#33 / E. Evans & S. Martin / Toyota Yaris

  • Overall Classification: 4th
  • Time: 2:00:35.5 (+41.9s)
  • Expected Classification (xC): 5th
  • Average Pace: +0.316s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 99.28%
  • Stage Wins: 1/17
  • Points: 16
  • Power Stage: 2
  • Best Pace: Won SS12 Arula 1, one of the fastest stages on it’s first pass.
  • Nitpicking Time Loss: His stage-end quote on SS4 Otepää 1 describes the morning loop well, “Overall, it was all okay”. Okay kicks you off the podium on a sprint rally and expectations in 2020 are now higher, although a recent high speed crash may be the devil on the shoulder.
Heat chart visualising WRC driver performances at Rally Estonia.
Graphic showing great stages (dark green) to big time lost (beige to red) at Rally Estonia.

#69 / K. Rovanperä & J. Halttunen / Toyota Yaris

  • Overall Classification: 5th
  • Time: 2:01:12.3 (+1:18.7)
  • Expected Classification (xC): 1st
  • Average Pace: +0.216s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 98.92%
  • Stage Wins: 5/17
  • Points: 15
  • Power Stage: 1st
  • Penalties: One minute penalty for working on the car after checking in to a stage.
  • Best Pace: Smashed Sunday determined to claw back some of the penalty. Lost just 3.1s over the three stages he didn’t win. Gained plenty more time by winning the others.
  • Notable Time Loss: Had a puncture on SS3 Kanepi 1. When playing the game of ‘what if?’ with a safe estimate of 25s lost here and the 1 minute penalty for a simple error, by taking it off his overall time hands Kalle the win. Realistically he would have been pushing Tanak harder.

#3 / T. Suninen & J. Lehtinen / M-Sport Fiesta

  • Overall Classification: 6th
  • Time: 2:02:33.2 (+2:39.6)
  • Expected Classification (xC): 7th
  • Average Pace: +0.820s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 98.12%
  • Stage Wins: 0/17
  • Points: 8
  • Power Stage: 6th
  • Best Pace: Consistent all weekend. Finished above his team mates.
  • Notable Time Loss: Consistent all weekend. As in bringing the car home with a points finish were probably more important than a knife edge fight with the rival teams.

#4 / E. Lappi & J. Ferm / M-Sport Fiesta

  • Overall Classification: 7th
  • Time: 2:02:45.6 (+2:52.0)
  • Expected Classification (xC): 8th
  • Average Pace: +0.873s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 98.00%
  • Stage Wins: 1/17
  • Points: 6
  • Power Stage: 7th
  • Best Pace: Started with grunt on the opening show stage.
  • Notable Time Loss: Pegged pace over the weekend not matching the opener. Is he holding himself back or being held by the team? Span on the penultimate stage losing a place to Suninen.

#44 / G. Greensmith & E. Edmondson / M-Sport Fiesta

  • Overall Classification: 8th
  • Time: 2:04:47.4 (+4:53.8)
  • Expected Classification (xC): 11th
  • Average Pace: +1.395s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 96.81%
  • Stage Wins: 0/17
  • Points: 4
  • Power Stage: 8th
  • Best Pace: Largely consistent and was not embarrassed by his teammates.
  • Nitpicking Time Loss: Cited slower pacenotes for the stages interfering with rhythm. Also a spin on SS15 Arula 2.
Heat chart visualising WRC driver performances over each loop.
Seconds per km off stage winning pace for the rally, Saturday and Sunday’s stages. Neuville, Katsuta and Loubet are based on completed stages.

#11 / T. Neuville & N. Gilsoul / Hyundai i20

  • Overall Classification: DNF
  • Expected Classification (xC): 10th (5th when measured on race pace)
  • Average Pace (Completed Stages): +0.s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 73.13%
  • Stage Wins: 1/17
  • Points: 0
  • Power Stage: 12th
  • Penalties: 20s penalty for checking into Stage 17 late
  • Retirements: Retired on Saturday after gathering damage in a disagreement with a rock. Finished Sunday but retired after the final stage. Officially because of electrical problems but more likely to be tactical as no points were at stake for crew or manufacturer.
  • Best Pace: Won SS6 Elva 1 saying he was lacking confidence, but then immediately crashing out on the next stage.
  • Notable Time Loss: Ripped a wheel off on SS7 Prangli 2. With all 6 crews of the other manufacturers still going strong, Sunday was just a formality.

#18 / T. Katsuta & D. Barritt / Toyota Yaris

  • Overall Classification: DNF
  • Expected Classification (xC): 6th
  • Average Pace (Completed Stages): +0.502s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 62.03%
  • Stage Wins: 0/17
  • Points: 0
  • Retirements: Took a fast right-hander too fast and rolled into heavy damage on SS12.
  • Best Pace: Consistently hovering at +0.5s/km was great for the developing driver.
  • No Notable Time Loss: Just one wrong pace note on one corner ending the rally.

#7 / P. Loubet & V. Landais / Hyundai i20

  • Overall Classification: DNF
  • Expected Classification (xC): 9th
  • Average Pace (Completed Stages): +1.027s/km
  • Rally Time Rating: 61.23%
  • Stage Wins: 0/17
  • Points: 0
  • Retirements: Steering issue on SS12
  • Best Pace: Less than +1s/km is mighty impressive for a first time outing in the WRC car. One to watch.
  • Nitpicking Time Loss: Stalled on the short SS6 Elva 1 and had a couple of silly moments but we all probably would on our first outing.

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Feature photo credit to Flickr/Nico Quatrevingtsix used under license.

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