Rally Estonia offers immediate drama – home country’s drivers hold a narrow one-two lead ahead of Heikkilä

The Saturday morning of the Estonian ERC rally delivered action and heavy rain showers, making the stages treacherously slippery.
Georg Linnamae
Georg Linnamäe. Photo: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool
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The opening stage of the morning provided drama as Simone Tempestini, a top contender in the ERC series, rolled his car and was forced to retire. Italian driver Giacomo Costenaro suffered the same fate. Additionally, ERC series leader Hayden Paddon encountered problems.

The New Zealander landed a jump nose-first, damaging the radiator.

“We landed hard on the nose midway through the stage. All the water came out, and the engine overheated,” Paddon reported.

The former WRC star managed to stop the leaks and set the fastest time on the second stage of the day. However, Paddon is currently in 14th place overall, over half a minute behind the leader.

“We’re obviously managing issues still, not full attack because we’ve got a lot of pressure and no water in the system. The weather is going to be a big decider in this rally but we’ll keep it up,” the Hyundai driver pondered.

Leading the rally is the home country’s Georg Linnamäe. Driving a Toyota, Linnamäe set the fastest time on the morning’s opening stage and leads the rally by one second over fellow Estonian Robert Virves.

“We got some info, it was much slippier than we though so we took it easier in some places,” Linnamäe explained.

“It’s been really wet, luckily the heaviest rain stopped before us. We had a clean run nothing special, let’s see what the others can do behind,” Virves remarked.

Competing in a Toyota, Mikko Heikkilä is in third place. The gap to the leader is a slim 4.6 seconds. In fourth place, Nikolay Gryazin is only 1.7 seconds behind Heikkilä.

“Really changing grip. Difficult to predict, when you lose the car you have massive grip. Clean run but I don’t know if the driving was good in here,” Heikkilä summarised.

The top six also include Polish driver Miko Marczyk and Ireland’s Jon Armstrong. Last weekend’s standout in a Rally1 car, Martins Sesks, hasn’t hit top speed in a Rally2 car. Sesks is in seventh place, 17.3 seconds behind the leader.

Standings in the Estonian ERC rally after SS3/14:

1.Georg LinnamäeToyota18:50.8
2. Robert VirvesSkoda+1,0
3.Mikko HeikkiläToyota+4..6
4. Nikolai GrjazinCitroen+6.3
5. Miko MarczykSkoda+10.5
6.Jon ArmstrongFord+12.6
7.Martins SesksToyota+17.3
8. Mads ØstbergCitroen+19.9
9.Mathieu FranceschiSkoda+22.1
10.Andrea MabelliniSkoda+22.5
11.Benjamin KorholaHyundai+24.5
12.Gregor JeetsToyota+28.5
13.Teemu AsunmaaSkoda+29.4
14.Hayden PaddonHyundai+34.1
15.Frank Tore LarsenVW+34.4

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