Sun 07 Jul 2024

Teenage talent Vaher takes first Junior ERC win

Seventeen-year-old Jaspar Vaher banked FIA Junior ERC Championship victory number one on Delfi Rally Estonia with a sublime performance that belied his young age.

Driving a Ford Fiesta Rally4 on Hankook tyres, Vaher took the lead on Saturday’s first stage and was never headed, securing first place by 46.3sec.

Calle Carlberg, who dropped out of the podium places when a traction control issue resulted in a delayed start to SS7 – before he lost more ground with two damaged tyres on Sunday morning – fought back to snatch second place from Mille Johansson during a dramatic Power Stage.

Johansson settled for third but was able to extend his championship advantage to 30 points over new second-placed driver Carlberg.

“It’s the perfect result,” said Vaher. “I wouldn’t have dreamed of this before but we made quite a strong performance this weekend and I’m really happy. It was really difficult conditions, especially the last stage, it was so muddy and wet. We’re not doing the whole championship but still it’s a great result and we’re happy.”

Vaher’s partial Junior ERC campaign is due his age. After taking a podium on V-Híd Rally Hungary in April, the Estonian was forced to miss Rally Islas Canarias and BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia because he is too young to drive on public roads in Spain and Sweden. But he returned for his home round and underlined his potential with a fine drive.

For ADAC Opel Rally Junior Team driver Carlberg, second place was a case of revenge following earlier disappointments.

“Normally I would never smile being P2, but after all the effort we put in and all the problems we had, to keep the championship alive is so important,” the Swede said. “I’ve calculated in my head what needs to be done for the next two events, it’s alive and that’s the most important thing.”

Johansson’s final-stage demotion was the result of a spin from the Opel Corsa Rally4 driver.
“This rally was really hard and now on the last stage it was quite muddy, and we spun and stalled the engine and lost a lot of seconds and the second place as well. It has been an okay rally for us but I have not had the feeling to push at 100 per cent.”

Karl-Markus Sei followed up on his impressive podium in Sweden with fourth place on his home event. However, the Peugeot 208 Rally4 driver was frustrated not to have made his local knowledge count. But in his first full season of Junior ERC competition, Sei was a mere 1.4sec behind Johansson at the finish.

After winning Friday evening’s super special stage in Tartu, Timo Schulz beat Patrik Herczig to fifth place as Daniel Polášek took seventh after getting stuck in ruts on SS5 and stopping to change a damaged tyre on SS9. Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy’s Aoife Raftery scored more Junior ERC points in eighth.

After retiring on SS9 due to running out of replacement tyres, Swedish Junior ERC newcomer Adam Grahn restarted on leg two and finished 10th, one place behind Davide Pesavento.

Pesavento was also unable to go the distance on leg one, stopping on SS9 with broken front-left suspension following contact with a rock. But leg two brought more fortune with the ACI Team Italia driver netting his first Junior ERC finish in ninth.

Max McRae completed the finishers in 11th place following exit from the rain-hit SS5.

ACI Team Italia’s Mattia Zanin was in seventh place when he rolled 4.3km from the start of SS11.

The FIA Junior ERC Championship resumes on Rali Ceredigion in Wales, an all-addition to the European calendar for 2024, which uses Tarmac-only stages from 30 August - 1 September.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM