This week’s parliamentary elections in Estonia have shifted government focus slightly, meaning a deal to extend what will be a four-year stay in the world championship couldn’t be sealed in time.
WRC Promoter was quick to point out that no doors were closed on Estonia, but what about the Estonians themselves? What was their take?
One man has done more to bring the WRC to Estonia than anybody. And for once, I’m not talking about Markko Märtin, or even Ott Tänak. No, it’s this guy: Urmo Aava, Rally Estonia event director.
Is this the end the Tartu story in the WRC?
“For sure not,” is the immediate response.
“On one hand I am very happy about Latvia – really, it’s true. To have more events pushing is good the sport and for the championship. From the Estonian perspective, the more popular the sport and WRC is in Latvia, the better it’s going to help to develop our market.
“I see a lot of positive things here – and for sure, Latvia is working for a long time for this.”
If it’s not the end, what does an absence from the 2024 calendar mean for Estonia?
“We have been in a very good relationship with the FIA and with the WRC Promoter and we would like to see the long-term strategy by rotating the smaller events between the European Rally Championship and the WRC,” said Aava. “I see this as a great plan.
“What I can say is that we are negotiating now with WRC Promoter for a longer contract. I cannot say how long, but we are happy organize for some years in the ERC.”
There’s no denying right now that the ERC wave is building and Aava can see value in paddling out into European waters again. Rally Estonia was an ERC round between 2014 and 2016, but stepped away from the then Eurosport-run series to pursue the WRC dream as a WRC Promotional Event.
As Spain last year showed, the WRC and ERC can be very much mutually inclusive.
“The ERC is somewhere we need to invest together,” said Aava. “Everybody is dreaming about the WRC, but I think some people have to look to the mirror. Look at the work the FIA is doing to develop young drivers through the continental championships (like ERC) and Rally Estonia has to be onboard with this.”
This content was originally published here.