Another youngster gets WRC chance


In collaboration with WRC Promoter and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, Sami Pajari will become the latest driver to debut at the WRC’s highest level, with the 22-year-old set to contest next month’s Tet Rally Latvia in a Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid

Sami Pajari (FIN) and Enni Mälkönen (FIN) of team Toksport WRT perform during World Rally Championship Sardinia in Alghero, Italy on June 2, 2024 // Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202406020300 // Usage for editorial use only //

Pajari, who hails from Finland, has been selected for this opportunity based on his meteoric rise through the WRC ranks over recent seasons. In 2021, only his fifth season in the sport, he claimed the FIA Junior WRC title and has since gone on to achieve multiple podiums and two wins in WRC2, the championship’s premier support category.

He becomes the second young driver this season to receive support from WRC Promoter, following Mārtiņš Sesks, who is already confirmed to drive an M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 at his home round in Latvia as well as ORLEN 80th Rally Poland.

Previous WRC3 champion Enni Mälkönen, will call the pace notes, becoming the first woman to co-drive at the WRC’s highest level since Isabelle Galmiche partnered Sébastien Loeb at EKO Acropolis Rally Greece in 2022.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing has a distinguished history of developing young talent. The Japanese manufacturer team has been instrumental in the success of current WRC drivers Kalle Rovanperä and Takamoto Katsuta, while its WRC Challenge Program has enabled youngsters Yuki Yamamoto and Hikaru Kogure to step up to WRC2 this year.

“We are delighted to support Sami Pajari as he takes this significant step in his rallying career,” said WRC Promoter’s Senior Director of Sport, Peter Thul. “WRC Promoter, like TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, is deeply committed to investing in young talent, and Sami has demonstrated exceptional potential throughout his journey in the WRC.

“Sami’s rapid progression and impressive performances in Junior WRC and WRC2 make him a deserving candidate for this opportunity. We believe that he and Enni will make a strong debut in Latvia.”

Building on years of success in the FIA European Rally Championship, Tet Rally Latvia is a brand-new addition to this year’s WRC season. The high-speed gravel event will be based in Liepāja and takes place from 18 – 21 July.

“I don’t know honestly where to start, but it feels just amazing,” Pajari said. “It’s kind of a relief because this is something that we have been working towards for many years. And it’s just a really unique thing to happen and a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing that we have been always working for.

“I think it’s quite a wise choice for me to do this in Latvia because the stages are mostly fast and flowing, which is something that I’m normally quite used to, from growing up in Finland. But it’s also a fresh event basically for everyone.”

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team principal Jari-Matti Latvala added: “This year we’ve seen that Sami 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 helps us make an ever-better car for all our customers.”