FIA Junior World Rally Championship leader Martins Sesks finds himself 10 points in front as ACI Rally Monza looms.
As well as the sport’s top tier, the 3 – 6 December event also plays host to the 2020 Junior WRC climax, where Sesks, Tom Kristensson and Sami Pajari each have the chance to take the title depending on how things play out.
Despite the shortened calendar, 2020 has been a particularly strong year for Sesks. The Latvian has finished on the podium on every round and managed to claim a maiden victory at Rally Estonia in September.
It’s a stark contrast from this time last year when the youngster’s confidence was jarred following a dramatic shunt in Corsica. Even after returning to action, he could only muster a best result of fifth in his debut season.
So, what changed over winter?
“Starting this year, the main thing was to be confident because my confidence was really down, said the 21-year-old. “I needed to get the feeling back and finish the rallies.
“I rejoined Renars Francis, my old co-driver from 2018. That was the biggest thing to get back the confidence and the results. We did a lot testing with the rally car and the recce car just making pace notes on a daily basis. We also had a really detailed plan before the first rally of the year and it looks like it really helped us.”
The partnership was reunited, the stage times started to come and the results soon followed…
Second in Sweden was a strong start to the year, but the turning point came in Estonia. Unphased by the rapid roads and endless jumps, Sesks snatched the lead with three stages to go and managed to stay in front of a charging Pajari to bag his first JWRC win.
“Estonia was not an easy job. There were two local guys – Ken Torn and Robert Virves – both really fast guys. They knew their home roads better than me. I have been there before, but for sure, home roads are home roads! We managed to drive a tactical rally and we weren’t the fastest all the time, but we were consistent and that helped us to score our first victory.”
Monza will be a completely new challenge for all of the Junior WRC crews. The trip to the Lombardy region marks the series’ first Tarmac outing of the season and the stakes are high.
Drivers who have started at least two rounds will be eligible for 1.5x bonus points and the champion will receive a brand-new M-Sport EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R5 MkII along with a Pirelli tyre support package to be used in 2021.
But the championship leader has brushed off the pressure, telling WRC.com he’s excited to get back behind the wheel of his M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally4:
“I can’t wait to get back out and fight with the other guys. The last rally was a long time ago and for sure it will be really nice to be on Tarmac in Italy,” he explained.
“Obviously the prize is quite special – when you calculate how big it is, you realise that you can do two seasons and if you win, you can get back the money from the budget.
“It’s definitely going to be a different kind of rally compared to what we are used to, but I think the second day on proper stages will be really good and we will see some really good competition.”
Are you leading your national junior rally championship? Register your interest in the 2021 FIA Junior WRC Championship here.