Karl Kruuda will be reunited with the car that he took to the biggest victory of his career so far when he contests Rally Finland from July 31-August 3.
The Estonian rising star, 21, is switching back to the Ford Fiesta S2000 he used to win the WRC 2 section of Rally Sweden back in February.
Having driven an R5-specification Peugeot 208T16 on the world championship rallies in Sardinia and Poland – plus on his home round of the European championship last week – Kruuda will be back behind the wheel of the Fiesta run by the experienced Printsport team from Finland.
"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," said Kruuda. "Also, we're five points shy of the Finnish championship lead, so if we can get 360 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."
While he won't be able to transfer the knowledge gained from driving the Peugeot on Rally Estonia – where a technical fault on day one restricted him to sixth overall – to his Fiesta, he has nevertheless been able to readjust to driving on jumps and crests similar to those that form part of the challenge on Finland's WRC counter. "The Finnish stages are very specific and you need maximum confidence with the set-up of your car," Kruuda explained. "I know I have that with the Fiesta because of the experience I have driving it."
This will be Kruuda's fourth Rally Finland following his debut in 2011. His best result came in 2012 when he claimed a strong 12th position overall, also in a Fiesta S2000. However, the route for next week's event, which takes place mainly on high-speed smooth gravel roads, has undergone a significant revamp with one stage back on the itinerary for the first time since 1987, while the last time the mixed-surface Harju stage in host town Jyväskylä was used was in 1998. In total there are 26 stages over a distance of 360 kilometres. The event starts on Thursday afternoon with the finish scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Jyväskylä, a university town in central Finland.
After four appearances in this year's WRC 2 category, Kruuda, who is co-driven by fellow Estonian Martin Järveoja, is fifth in the standings with 49 points.
Did you know? Karl Kruuda's younger brother Gustav made history on Rally Estonia last week when he became the youngest driver to start a round of the European championship aged 16 years, three months and six days. Having been given driving tips before the start by his elder sibling, Kruuda Jr finished a fine seventh in class behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta R2.