This weekend’s Rally Sweden sees the start of the 2020 FIA Junior WRC Championship, and amongst the 16 crews contesting the series are three British drivers – Jon Armstrong, Catie Munnings and Ruairi Bell.

Armstrong might be better known as the 2018 eSports Champion, but his rallying skills are not limited to virtual reality. For example, the 25-year old Ulsterman contested the Junior ERC in 2015 in a Peugeot 208 R2, winning the prestigious Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy on the Circuit of Ireland.

Munnings has also been rallying in the ERC, becoming Ladies’ champion in 2016 and in last year’s series she drove a Saintéloc Junior Team Peugeot 208 R2. The Red Bull UK Athlete has recent experience of driving on snow too, having driven a specially modified Bentley Continental GT3 at Austria’s GP Ice Race earlier this month.

London-based Bell has contested rounds of the Junior BRC in a Fiesta R2T and is no novice when it comes to competing on snow either, having started his rallying career in Latvia in 2016.

Since the Junior series as we know it first started, only the 2011 FIA WRC Academy can boast more entries than this year’s field – so it goes without saying that the forthcoming JWRC season is expected to be an extremely close-fought and exciting one.

Taking to the wheel of identical EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R2T19s equipped with Pirelli’s Sottozero ICE tyres, it all gets underway this weekend with the youngsters keen to showcase their skills on the FIA World Rally Championship’s only true winter rally. However, due to unseasonably mild weather impacting the rally route, a reduced schedule will see the crews tackle just over 100 competitive miles across 11 stages in Sweden and neighbouring Norway – and it has never been more important to be quick out of the box.

And with the potential for a relatively thin layer of ice, the crews will also have to pay close attention to their strategy, set-up and tyre management – especially when it comes to ensuring they retain as many studs as possible over the entire loop.

The British trio will face fierce competition from the very best young drivers from around the world – not least the reigning Junior World Champion Tom Kristensson, last year’s Swedish Junior Rally Champion Pontus Lönnström, the rapid Baltic duo Ken Torn and Mārtiņš Sesks and Henning Solberg’s son, Oscar, to name but a few.

All the JWRC crews have enjoyed a pre-season training session at Petter Solberg’s workshop, with the 2003 World Champion himself giving them advice – so the scene is set for another eagerly anticipated JWRC season.

Catie Munnings wears a Stilo WRC DES 8860 helmet supplied by Nicky Grist Motorsports and Walero fireproof underwear.

This weekend’s Rally Sweden sees the start of the 2020 FIA Junior WRC Championship, and amongst the 16 crews contesting the series are three British drivers – Jon Armstrong, Catie Munnings and Ruairi Bell.