Kesh driver Jon Armstrong knows all about deadline day deals.
With the clock running down until registrations for the Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC) closed, he was still short on budget.
Short to the tune of £40,000, in fact. Then last year’s JWRC runner-up took to social media to call on fans and prospective backers to provide whatever help they could – and his plea was answered.
In the space of a few hours, the 27-year-old had the finances he so desperately needed to remain part of a competition that’s launched the careers of Kris Meeke and Craig Breen to name but two.
“It was fantastic to see the positive response to me needing help,” said Armstrong, who will join forces with fellow Fermanagh native Brian Hoy as part of the changes he has made for this season.
“The people at the Junior World Rally Championship wanted to see me back and they gave me the opportunity to try my best to make it happen. I didn’t think it would be possible some weeks back to get a deal in place, but thankfully I did and I managed to make some great partners too.”
With that particular crisis averted, Armstrong could begin planning for the opening round of the one-make series, which has taken crews to Sweden’s snow-covered roads this week.
There, he will renew old rivalries with seven other hotshots including Sami Pajari – the youngest ever JWRC champion who was gifted the title when Armstrong crashed on the final round of 2021.
And as if that wasn’t exciting enough, the JWRC is switching from front- to four-wheel-drive Ford Fiesta Rally3 cars for the first time in its 21-year history – a supermini Armstrong is familiar with.
“It made sense to go back to the Junior World Rally Championship with it being four-wheel drive this year,” said the former eSports World Rally Champion.
“And, of course, the fact that I am not going to be starting from zero with the Rally3 car is going to be a help, so that is definitely nice.
“For me, the Junior World Rally Championship is a natural progression and obviously given my budget issues I wasn’t able to step up to WRC2.
“The Junior World Rally Championship is where I need to be to attract sponsors and further my career, so it is nice to be back again this season.
“I wouldn’t be going back if I didn’t think I could be in with a chance of being champion. With that said, the competition is just as high as last year, so I’ll really need to keep improving. Brian will be a great addition to the team. I know he’s more than capable of the job – we work well together.
“Three of the events are the same this year as last year, so I am sure that will help with knowledge and when it comes to making pace notes,” he added. “For sure, I think it can only be a good thing.”