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world rally championship

Pajari Expects Huge Challenge

Sami Pajari gives his thoughts on the challenge ahead with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team giving the talented young driver the opportunity to make his debut at rallying’s top level when he drives a GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID at Rally Latvia next month.

Pajari and co-driver Enni Mälkönen will compete in an additional fourth TGR-WRT entry alongside three of the team’s regular crews on the fast gravel event, which is new on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar for 2024.

22-year-old Finnish driver Pajari is regarded as one of the most exciting young talents in rallying. He became the youngest ever Junior WRC champion when he claimed the title in 2021, and last year achieved his first WRC2 victory at Rally Finland.

Sami Pajari

“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. 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. At least 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. I hope that if we can do well, then maybe there can be a chance for something nice in the future, but that’s something I can only think about much later. For now, I'll just focus on this one rally and enjoy it.”

This year, Pajari has been driving the new GR Yaris Rally2 car in the highly competitive WRC2 class, where he has impressed with stage-winning speed on all surfaces while delivering valued feedback to engineers. At last weekend’s Rally Italia Sardegna he claimed a commanding WRC2 win and finished in sixth position overall.

Granting the opportunity for Pajari to step up to Rally1 in Latvia demonstrates TGR-WRT’s ambition to provide a path for young talent to reach rallying’s world stage – part of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s wider global commitment to support young drivers in developing their skills and achieving their dreams.

Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)

“Alongside our TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC Challenge Program, where since 2015 we have been training young Japanese drivers, we also keep an eye out for the most talented young drivers competing in the WRC support categories. 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. Sami has been making big steps and getting better results, with a magnificent weekend in Sardinia. He’s not only showing great speed but also providing our engineers with the feedback that help us make an ever-better car for all our customers. Rally Latvia is a fast and flowing event like Rally Finland and Sami also likes the roads in the Baltic region, so they suit him well and should help him feel more at home. It’s also on fast roads like these that you can really feel and understand how the aerodynamics of a Rally1 car are working. So we hope that Sami and Enni can gain some nice experience there and learn about the car and the step up from Rally2.”

External Credits:

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT


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