Jon Armstrong starts second Junior World Rally Championship in Sweden

Jon Armstrong is fully focused on his latest Junior WRC challengeJon Armstrong is fully focused on his latest Junior WRC challenge
Jon Armstrong is fully focused on his latest Junior WRC challenge
Warwick driver hoping to go one better than runner-up finish last year

Jon Armstrong returns to the World Rally Championship in 2022 bidding to go one better than his runner-up Junior WRC finish last year, writes Adam Hall.

Rally Sweden kickstarts Junior WRC’s latest five-round series on its unique high-speed snow-surface stages. The 19-stage rally runs between Friday 25 February to Sunday 27 February with Thursday’s short shakedown preceding the competitive action.

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Armstrong narrowly missed out on the Junior WRC title in 2021 after winning two of the championship’s five rounds. He’s aiming for success this time around but with plenty of new scenarios in Sweden; smooth and steady is perhaps the sensible approach.

Jon Armstrong won two Junior WRC rounds in 2021Jon Armstrong won two Junior WRC rounds in 2021
Jon Armstrong won two Junior WRC rounds in 2021

“I think Sweden is going to be a tough task,” admitted Armstrong. “The main thing is to enjoy it, get into a good rhythm from the start, make sure I am happy with my pacenotes, and start committing to those as the event goes on.

“I think if I can get a podium in Sweden then that would be a great result.”

Junior WRC moves to four-wheel-drive machinery for the first time in its 20-year history. Armstrong will drive M-Sport Poland’s Ford Fiesta Rally3 car rather than last year’s front-wheel-drive Rally4 equivalent.

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The Northern Irish driver, who lives in Warwick, has some experience of the car. He won the European Rally Championship’s Junior category in a Rally3 Fiesta on last year’s Rally Poland.

Sweden’s snow stages will be an altogether different task, though, and with Armstrong’s Nordic rivals Sami Pajari and Lauri Joona continuing in Junior WRC as well, he will have to be at his best to topple their Scandinavian expertise.

Rally Sweden is based in Umea for the first time this year. The winter rally has moved 500 kilometres further north from its usual Karlstad base in the hunt for more predictable snow conditions.

Another first for Armstrong will be the company of Brian Hoy as his co-driver for 2022. But as Armstrong explains, geography is on their side as they start a new in-car partnership.

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“We are both from County Fermanagh which is something really cool. It is quite nice for everybody back home to be supporting us.

“I think Brian has got more than enough experience from WRC and ERC to do the job properly. I am sure we will get on really well, even coming from the same part of the world should help.

“I am sure there are lots of things we can learn from each other. There will be things that Brian does differently that I can feed off and things that I have learned over the past year that I can share with him.

“I think it will work really well and I am looking forward to it.”

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Rally Sweden’s snow will be the first of three unique surfaces that Junior WRC crews are set to tackle in 2022. Croatia Rally provides asphalt action in April before Portugal, Estonia, and Greece host three gravel events between May and September.

A total of eight crews from Ireland, France, Finland, Estonia, Greece, and Kenya are bidding for Junior WRC glory this year.

“I’m really proud to be back in Junior WRC this year,” added Armstrong. “It took a big effort from my supporters and partners to make our plans for this year possible.

“I’m looking forward to revealing my latest WRC livery and partners just before Rally Sweden gets underway.”

2022 Junior WRC calendar

R1 // Rally Sweden (Snow), 24-27 February

R2 // Croatia Rally (Asphalt), 21-24 April

R3 // Rally Portugal (Gravel), 19-22 May

R4 // Rally Estonia (Gravel), 14-17 July

R5 // Acropolis Rally Greece (Gravel), 8-11 September

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