Karl Kruuda will join the R5 revolution in Sardinia next week when he returns to the World Rally Championship at the wheel of a Peugeot 208T16. The 21-year-old Estonian ace is switching to the new-generation machine having made two appearances in the 2014 WRC2 category in a Ford Fiesta Super 2000.
Kruuda, who won his class on Rally Sweden in February and holds a strong fourth place in the WRC2 title standings, says a new car will mean a new approach to the gravel event, which takes place from June 5-8.
“I still have a lot to learn about the car because I've only done one small test and one local rally in Estonia,” said Kruuda. “That means I don't have the confidence yet to push to the limit of the car. I will take it a bit easier at the start, not like my last WRC rally in Portugal where I was pushing quite a lot. The main goal is to bring the car to the finish and if there are problems then we will use the rally to solve them.”
Having spent much of his recent career driving normally aspirated Ford Fiestas, Kruuda says he's still adapting to the turbocharged Peugeot, which is being run by the Tagai Racing Technology team from Hungary.
“Getting used to the turbo is one thing but also going from a six-speed gearbox to the five-speed gearbox is not easy,” he said. “My pace notes are written according to the gear I am in more or less and with the five-speed gearbox it can be hard to understand what gear to use.”
With turbocharged cars beginning to dominate the WRC 2 category this season, Kruuda's switch to the Peugeot is a logical step. However, Rally Italia Sardegna will effectively serve as a high-speed test drive, even though his car will be emblazoned with a traditional Karl Kruuda-style striking livery.
“We did the Harju Ralli in Estonia in this car and we will use it in Sardinia next as part of a two-event deal made by my management company, V&V Sport Management,” Kruuda explained. “Then we will have big discussions about what to do next. I hope we will continue with this car but if I am not happy in the car there is a possibility we will go back to the Super 2000 car. One thing I can say for sure is that we're still working on the full colour scheme for later this year.”