Interview with the new rising Rally Star Romet Jürgenson about his first steps in rallying, life-changing decision and first two seasons at the professional rally level.
Author – Ignas Augustonis
We are coming back after some break with interview’s rubric. This time you will be able to meet Romet Jürgenson, the winner of FIA Rally Star European selection. This year 23-year old Estonian was doing different rallies in Europe and showing great pace during the whole 2023 season. At the moment, he is waiting the final decision from FIA if he will be selected to do Junior World Rally Championship program for 2024. But it’s more than sure – he is really close to achieve it.
How did you get into rallying?
It’s not the usual story of “my dad was driving and that’s how I got into it”. We were both riding motocross and that’s for sure where I found my initial love for motorsport, but with rallying it’s actually my uncle who introduced me to it. I think it was 2013, when he invited me to watch one of our local rallies in Estonia and I just fell in love with the sport. The adrenaline you could get by just spectating was something different and since that day I was eager to one day get a chance myself.
Before stepping up to driver’s side, you spent some time co-driving for your good friend Jaspar Vaher in the Rahvaralli series. What is the main idea under Rahvaralli? And how did it go for your crew?
I think I‘m one of the few people that has both won titles in rahvaralli/folk race as a driver and as a co-driver, so thanks for that Jaspar! As I previously said, once I found out more about rallying, I was eager to one day have a go myself. So folk racing for me as a driver was the only logical and affordable first step to take. I competed as a driver in 2016-2018 and won the juniors for the first two years. Then I felt like I wanted to make the step up to real rallying, but harsh reality kicked in. It wasn‘t possible for budget reasons. In the folk racing years I had met Jaspar and he invited me to co-drive him in one of the events. I think his dad had just had an injury and operation. Then I thought.. OK I might need to help my friend out. As I still wanted to be connected with the sport, I found out that I actually enjoyed co-driving and giving him tips. What helped was of course that we were good friends and I saw a lot of potential in him, so it was just a pleasure to sit beside him. Once the cars and Jaspar got faster I started to doubt the decision a bit and felt like the driving seat is still the place to be.
Big wishes came true quite soon 🙂
In 2021, FIA presented the first global talent detection programme called “FIA Rally Star”. How did you find out about this project? And what prompted you to participate there?
I found out about the program through Twitter. Saw a tweet from Yves Matton about it and it was clear from the beginning, that it‘s an amazing initative. The will to prove myself in rallying was so big and it was still itching since folk racing that I have never had the real chance, so from that point onwards I did everything I could to get into my continental final.
You won selection in your country. Later you came to region’s finals and became the winner of the European region. How did this achievement change your life and future plans?
It changed them a lot. I now have to look at my life as a sportsman. It‘s once in a lifetime opportunity and it would be stupid not to give 100% from my side.
It’s no secret that Romet is not afraid of media attention
This achievement guaranteed you a full training program of 6 rallies with a Rally3 car in the 2023 season. But you spent the last year purposefully participating in the Estonian Rally Championship with Honda Civic Type R and doing some selected rallies with Ford Fiesta Rally4. How did this decision help you as a beginner rally driver before switching to Rally3 machinery?
I think a lot of the success I‘ve had this season comes down to that. If I hadn‘t done these rallies with Honda or Rally4, I very much doubt I could‘ve done the same results like I did this year in the program. For me it was clear that I needed the extra mileage, especially so early into my career. It didn‘t really matter which car it was as I just lacked the mileage. Actually switching from Honda to Fiesta was so easy as Honda was sometimes a real pain in the ass to drive. Suddenly you didn‘t have to fight with the steering wheel when driving the Fiesta.
Romet already has experience in WRC – this year he did Rally Estonia where he won in RC4 class
2023 season. 6 different rallies in Europe on gravel and tarmac with new car and professional team, including big ups and downs during the whole season. How would you summarize this year’s season?
We had everything and I think it really perfectly describes it as a training season. We had some really strong performances, but some stupid mistakes as well. All in all I think I have to be happy, because we got a strong result on both surfaces, which shows that we have the potential to be a full package rally driver, which the FIA was actually looking for.
Training season for selected Rally Stars started at San Marino Rally. Later they were doing Rallye Weiz, Rally Nova Gorica, Rally Saaremaa, RallyRACC Catalunya and Lausitz Rallye.
Great video review from Romet’s performance in this year’s Rally Saaremaa:
English subtitles available.
Photos – Romet Jürgenson, Urmo Sibul