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British rally co-driver Phil Hall remains on-track to fight for the coveted FIA Junior World Rally Championship title after a scintillating performance at Rally Estonia last weekend (15-18 July), taking second place at the gruelling event.

The third round of the five-event series saw a blistering pace from the front-running crews as Hall guided fellow Brit Jon Armstrong to five stage victories before securing the impressive runner-up spot in what is considered a highly specialist, super-fast gravel event.

The result ensures that Hall sits just 15 points away from the series lead with two rounds remaining and with more familiar events to come in the calendar, the fight is on for Hall’s maiden World title over the remainder of the season.

The 32-year-old RAF Motorsport High Performing Athlete from Nottinghamshire is enjoying a highly successful 2021 season in the co-drivers seat, with a sensational round one Junior WRC win in Croatia getting his season off to the perfect start. Engine failure caused a second round zero score hampering progress, but recovery in Estonia has rekindled the title fight.

It’s been a positive year outside of the Junior tour too, with Hall and Armstrong selected to debut the M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally3 in the FIA European Rally Championship and duly taking the class win at Rally Poland in June.

But the Junior WRC is undoubtedly the focus for Hall this season and the Estonian roads are famed for their unforgiving jumps and super-fast sections which require the ultimate concentration and precision pace note calling from the co-driver’s seat.

The Motorsport UK Team UK squad member has a wealth of experience in events across the world but had never competed in Estonia before. The recce and pre-event shakedown would be an all-important factor in learning the type of note delivery required.

And it got off to a positive start with third fastest across the opening Super Special on Thursday night, before the rally proper got underway on Friday. Punching in confidence-boosting times throughout the day saw Hall end the opening day in second spot, with a stage win on the penultimate test an added bonus.

With the series contenders feeling much more at home and experienced on the Estonian soil, making inroads on the lead would always be an uphill task but Hall would be eager to balance Armstrong’s pace between risk and reward to end day two in third place.

The opening stage on the final day saw Hall climb back into second, to cross the finish ramp in Tartu with another impressive result.

“This is such a fantastic rally but it’s suited to some of the guys with experience of these style of roads so to come away with second and be fighting for stage wins is exciting,” said Hall.

“It hasn’t been easy at all; it’s a gruelling event and it’s been a hard balance between the rough roads and the flat out sections but I feel I`ve really settled into the task in hand and the harmony in the car has been great between Jon and I. This result has set us up perfectly to fight for the title over the closing rounds and it’s going to be a great battle for sure”.

Hall would also enjoy support from the British Embassy in Tallinn during his trip thanks to a unique collaboration that saw Hall and the Embassy host a live virtual DiRT2.0 Rally tournament final in the town centre to crown an Estonia champion.

His attention now turns to the Ypres Rally which takes place in just over three weeks as the Junior WRC turns back to asphalt for the popular Belgium based closed-road event.

Image credits: FIA Junior WRC/M-Sport

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