Sami Pajari’s incredible opportunity: Takes the wheel of Toyota’s Rally1 car in Latvia

Sami Pajari will get the chance to drive Toyota's Rally1 hybrid car in the top category of the WRC.
Sami Pajari
Sami Pajari
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In recent weeks, there have been rumors surrounding Pajari, suggesting that the Finnish prospect might get a chance to showcase his skills with Toyota’s Rally1 equipment during the summer. These rumors have now been confirmed.

Pajari and his co-driver Enni Mälkönen will compete with the Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 car in the Rally Latvia, which takes place in mid-July.

There was earlier speculation that Pajari’s opportunity might come at his home event, the Rally Finland. However, Latvia is a logical choice because the competition is essentially new to all top-level drivers. This allows Pajari to compare his speed against the leading drivers on a more level playing field.

Pajari and Mälkönen will be driving the fourth Toyota, alongside the team’s regular factory drivers.

“It feels amazing to have this opportunity with Toyota Gazoo Racing. This is something that I have been working towards for many years, but it is not so often that there is a seat available in a Rally1 car,” Pajari says.

“It will be a huge challenge because there are so many new things to learn, and the pace at the top level is also really high. But I will try to not focus on the result too much or feel any pressure on that side, and just aim to enjoy and gain all the experience I can for the future.”

The rally stages in Latvia are not entirely new to Pajari. He competed in the Latvian ERC rally in 2021, where he finished second in the ERC3 Junior class.

“In Latvia the stages are mostly fast and flowing, something that I’m quite used to from Finland, and it’s also basically a fresh event for everyone, so in this sense we are more or less starting from the same place as the top drivers.”

Pajari, 22, won the JWRC championship in 2021. Since last year, he has been competing exclusively in the WRC2 category.

This year, Pajari has been driving the Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 car in the WRC2 class. Last weekend, he achieved his first class victory with this car in Sardinia, where he put on an excellent performance alongside his co-driver Mälkönen.

Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala has closely observed Pajari’s progress towards the top of the rallying world.

“This year we’ve seen that Sami Pajari is driving really well with our GR Yaris Rally2 and we would like to see his potential in our Rally1 car,” Latvala says.

The Rally Latvia is scheduled for July 18-21. The central location for the competition will be the city of Liepaja.

Before the Rally Latvia, Pajari will compete at the end of June in the Rally Poland, where he will be fighting for WRC2 class points.

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