Ford BP Rallye Sport driver Markko Martin will be assured of a huge welcome from his fellow Estonians when he tackles the country's two-day E.O.S. Rally (4 - 5 July) in a Focus RS World Rally Car. The 27-year-old became a national hero when he ...
Ford BP Rallye Sport driver Markko Martin will be assured of a huge welcome from his fellow Estonians when he tackles the country's two-day E.O.S. Rally (4 - 5 July) in a Focus RS World Rally Car. The 27-year-old became a national hero when he claimed his first world rally victory on the Acropolis Rally in Greece earlier this month and he, co-driver Michael Park and their latest specification Focus RS WRC will be the star attractions at Estonia's biggest motorsport event.
The rally, which is backed by Martin's personal sponsor, the Estonian Oil Service, will form an important part of the Ford BP team's preparations for August's Rally Finland, ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The E.O.S. Rally begins a six-day test in advance of one of the most spectacular rounds of the world series and provides wide, fast and flowing gravel roads similar to those found on the classic Finnish event.
Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, lies just 84km across the Baltic Sea from Finland's capital, Helsinki, and Martin regards the Finnish rally as his home event and one he would dearly love to win.
He won the E.O.S. Rally last year in a Focus RS and is relishing the opportunity to display the stunning 2003-specification Focus RS WRC to his home fans less than a month after his historic win in Greece. Success there brought telephone calls of congratulation from Estonia's president and Prime Minister as well as huge support from the public.
"I'm really looking forward to competing in my home country and giving fans the opportunity to see the new Focus RS," said Martin. "It will be only the car's fifth event since its debut in April and it's a unique chance for rally fans there to watch a world championship team in action. This will be perfect preparation for the Rally Finland as the roads are very similar and after two slow rallies in Greece and Cyprus, it will be great fun to return to faster stages which I enjoy most."
Martin will start the E.O.S. Rally as firm favourite but the event has attracted a tremendous entry which includes 14 World Rally Cars. Martin will also face some inter-team, rivalry as Ford world championship team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen will also compete in a privately-entered Toyota Corolla WRC.
Other privately-entered Focus RS WRCs will be driven by Finns Janne Tuohino, Kaj Kuistila and Jari Viita, Poland's Tomasz Kuchar, another familiar face from world championship rallies, and Estonia's Margus Murakas.
The rally starts on Friday evening from Tartu's main square. Drivers twice tackle a spectacular stage through the streets of the city which crosses the Spruse Bridge, spanning the Emajogi river, in both directions. Saturday's action is based around the single service park at the Otepaa ski stadium. After leaving Tartu at 07.00, competitors will face five gravel stages, each used twice. Only one test is identical to last year's route. Others have been modified slightly and one is entirely new. The rally returns to the centre of Tartu for the finish at 19.40 after 12 stages covering 124.24km.