Sami Pajari and Marko Salminen started the second day of ACI Rally Monza in the lead of Junior WRC class, after a successful opening day on Thursday. The day began in the same spirit, as Pajari once again scored the fastest stage time.
The objective was clear as ever: only the victory mattered and even then Pajari would need to score 5 more fastest stage times than the championship leader Tom Kristensson in order to seize the FIA JWRC title to Finland. With that in mind, Pajari attacked the stages at the maximum and made his Ford Fiesta Rally 4 fly through the dreadful weather surrounding the race track at Monza.
Even the most experienced of drivers were making mistakes all through the first stages in unpredictable conditions, as the roads at the circuit alternated between slippery tarmac, concrete, mud and grass. Pajari’s time to make a judgement error on the grip levels came when switching from tarmac to mud on the third stage of the rally: the car went wide in a right hander and twice hit a building at the side of the road. The Ford suffered only minor damages, yet unrepairable on the road and thus forced the pair to retire for the day and miss out on the three remaining similar circuit stages of the day.
“First, I’m very sorry for our sponsors and the people around me. It was my mistake. Not so big a mistake maybe, but the place was crucial and the damage was enough to make us end the day early. Now we keep the focus on tomorrow, there is much experience to gain in this difficult rally.”
The ACI Rally Monza continues on Saturday and opens with the 25 kilometres long special stage of Selvino at the Italian Alps. Altogether 7 stages will take place during the day with combined competitive distance of 127 kilometres. All but the final of them all are driven at the mountainous region north of Bergamo, where many of the road sections are expected to be covered in snow. The day will be concluded on the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza as the drivers will challenge it once more as PZero Grand Prix 2, the stage driven as it was at the end of Friday: slippery, tricky and in the dark