The Estonian National Museum definitely qualifies. Just over 10 months on from the nation’s WRC debut, we’re back. And we’re ready for the fast show.
In terms of gravel rallies, rounds six and seven couldn’t be more different – no two countries can showcase the true diversity of rallying at the highest level like Kenya and Estonia.
Last month’s Safari Rally Kenya provided some of the roughest, toughest and sandiest stages the sport’s ever seen. This week’s roads around Tartu will be billiard-table smooth by comparison and eye-wateringly quick in the majority. And, there will be less giraffes.
Video: Rally Estonia – top memorable moments
Any lingering dust from Africa will be well and truly blown away on Friday morning’s Arula opener. Blasting off on Tarmac, it’s onto the loose 140 metres later and from then on it’s back to those beautiful, fast flowing stages – with the only interruption being a decent amount of time in Estonia airspace over some spectacular jumps.
Most of the stages are south of the service park at Raadi airfield. Otepää sits at the heart of much of the route with stages running all around. Driving the route, the monstrous ski jump at Tehvandi serves as a timely reminder that, when winter comes, it’s not just rally cars that fly in these parts.
Tartu’s old town is the place to be when you’re not on the stages. Packed with cool cafes and pop-up rally shops, you can land yourself a hat, T-shirt or jacket (you won’t be needing one of those this week – it’s going to be 30°C, admittedly with the odd thundery shower), but it’s best to remember this is Tänak town. So, if you’re in the market for some OT-branded kit, get in early.
The enthusiasm shown from the fans at what was the WRC’s first event back following the initial pandemic lockdown last season was extraordinary.
Ever since Markko Märtin was winning WRC rounds regularly in the noughties, rallying has been growing towards national sport status. It’s well and truly arrived now.
• Full coverage from Rally Estonia will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.