Kruuda's high speed gravel ride

Kruuda's high speed gravel rideFrom General Article [ 23/07/2014 ].
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Karl Kruuda will continue his WRC 2 glory chase on Rally Finland next week armed with recent experience of competing on high-speed gravel stages. The 21-year-old rising star from Estonia was contesting his home round of the European Rally Championship, which finished in the country's second largest city, Tartu, on Saturday.

While he was frustrated to have missed out on a podium placing, he was able readjust to driving on jumps and crests similar to those that form part of the challenge on Finland's WRC counter from July 31-August 3.

Kruuda will switch to the Ford Fiesta Super 2000 he has been using in the Finnish championship for the Jyväskylä-based round having completed his three-event programme of international rallies with the Peugeot 208T16.

"I know the set-up needed with the Fiesta for Finland and the team that runs the car is Finnish so they have a lot of knowledge of the terrain," Kruuda explained. "Also, we're five points shy of the Finnish championship lead, so if we can get 300 kilometres under our belts in the Fiesta before the final two Finnish championship rounds by doing Rally Finland then using the Fiesta is a better solution than taking the Peugeot, which I've obviously not driven in Finland before. The Finnish stages are very specific and you need maximum confidence with the set-up of your car. I know I have that with the Fiesta because of the experience I have driving it."

Kruuda was held back on Rally Estonia by a broken camshaft sensor, which starved his Peugeot 208T16 of vital power on the high tempo stages of Friday's longer opening leg. Even when the problem was fixed for day two, Kruuda felt that he was short of the confidence needed to push flat out. Keen to avoid a repeat of his sizeable crash on Rally Poland last month, Kruuda opted for a cautious run to the finish and came home in sixth overall, sandwiched between the two factory Skoda drivers Esapekka Lappi and Sepp Wiegand.

"The result was not what we were looking for before the start but the car never felt right, on Friday with the power problem and on Saturday with the set-up," he said. "I don't think the crash in Poland was holding me back mentally but because of it we weren't able to test as we had to get a new car ready. That meant we couldn't find the problem before the start, or the perfect set-up. But we have to be happy because we got to compete in front of our own fans on some really nice and fast stages."

Leg two of Rally Estonia also counted as a round of the Estonian national championship. Kruuda and co-driver Martin Järveoja scored fifth-place points.

And Karl Kruuda wasn't the only family member competing in Estonia: his younger brother Gustav finished a fine sixth in the ERC 2WD category. In doing so he became the youngest driver to start a round of the European championship aged 16 years, three months and six days.