The 2018 FIA Junior World Rally Championship will come to an exciting close when Rally Turkey hosts the fifth and final round this week. Double points are up for grabs, and eight of the competing crews have a mathematical chance of clinching the title.

This year’s championship has witnessed some intensely close-fought rallying and the competition could not be tighter. The protagonists are equipped with identical one-litre EcoBoost Ford Fiesta R2s shod with Pirelli tyres, and the stage is set for a showdown of epic proportions.

While Turkey has hosted a round of the FIA World Rally Championship before, the championship has never visited this region and absolutely everything is new.

The crews must do their research in advance and be completely focused in the lead-up to the event. Brand-new pacenotes must be made for every kilometre, and the correct set-ups determined for the unfamiliar terrain.

This is the ultimate test on a completely level playing field and those who emerge victorious will have demonstrated all the skills of a deserving champion.

Dennis Radstrom

JWRC front runner, Dennis Radstrom, in action in the Rally of Sweden in February. Photo: Holmes

Currently leading the championship standings is Emil Bergkvist. The Swede may not have claimed a victory so far this year, but he has been in the fight at every event and competitive on every surface. Can he secure the title with victory this weekend?

Fellow Swede Dennis Rådström will be looking to prevent that. Rådström has won more events than anyone else this year and led the championship all season before being toppled by his rival at the previous round. Victory on home soil in Sweden and was followed by an intelligent drive to the top step of the podium in Portugal, and he’ll be looking to do the same in Turkey.

Another driver keen to taste the winners’ champagne is Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Franceschi. After winning his home event at the Tour de Corse, Franceschi has proved a quick learner and challenged for the podium positions at every event.

Rally Finland winner Ken Torn is also a strong candidate for victory and championship glory. The Estonian has speed in abundance and has regularly challenged at the top of the field. A mistake-free run in Turkey could see the Estonian snatch the title.

Ken Torn in action in Finland. Photo: JWRC

Also in contention for the title this week are Julius Tannert, Callum Devine, Enrico Oldrati and Bugra Banaz. Despite this being a brand new event for all concerned, Tannert’s experience of the championship could work in his favour as could Devine’s calm and composed character.

Having contested just a single rally sprint before the opening round in Sweden, Oldrati would never have dreamed of being in with a shot of the title come the final round, but here he is – his determination and will to learn paying dividends.

Local hero Banaz will also be looking to give the home crowd something to cheer about. The Turkish driver has contested a number of events in his homeland, and will be hoping that gives him the advantage when it comes to reading the road and conditions.

Kiwi David Holder is back in action this weekend. Photo: JWRC

Also in competition this week are Luca Bottarelli, David Holder, Tom Williams and Emilio Fernández – all of whom will be looking to put everything they have learnt into practice and finishing the season with a positive result.

The Junior WRC also welcomes a newcomer to the service area in the form of Raul Badiu. Having contested a number of rallies in his homeland, the Romanian will make his WRC debut in Turkey.

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