Five-time world rally winner Markko Martin will contest next week's Rally Estonia, defending his victory from last year in a Ford Focus RS WRC.
The July 15-16 event is a traditional warm-up for Rally Finland and will provide an intriguing battle between Martin's older two-liter World Rally Car and the Mini WRC of Kris Meeke and Fiesta RS WRC of Mads Ostberg. Predictably, Martin will be the home favorite for an event he has dominated in the past.
Event director Urmo Aava said he was delighted to receive news that Martin would compete on the event, saying: "Markko Martin's participation in Rally Estonia is very good news for the rally fans. For the organizers this means bigger publicity, good competition and a great opportunity to introduce Estonia in Europe. As Markko is starting in Rally Estonia, there is a very big possibility that victory of Rally Estonia will come to Estonia."
Martin's protege Ott Tanak had planned to start the event, but his Fiesta S2000 will not be rebuilt from its Acropolis crash in time.
Ostberg said: "Markko Martin starting means this will be a good rally, and we are going to fight for the victory for sure. We are working with different setups, though, and our goal is to get a good feeling before Rally Finland."
Among the other WRC drivers competing in Finland are Martin Prokop and Rene Kuipers. The WRC Academy is also well represented, with Craig Breen, Alastair Fisher and Estonia's own Egon Kaur driving their Fiesta R2s.