Jon Armstrong, Northern-Irish rally and esports driver, failed to claim the 2022 FIA JWRC title at the weekend, falling short by just 15 points.
Throughout the Acropolis Rally, Armstrong and his Irish co-driver Brian Hoy battled the notoriously rough Greek stages to come home second. But with rival Robert Virves winning the rally, the championship challenge was over.
The JWRC – or WRC3 Junior as it’s also known – is open to drivers under the age of 29. They are obliged to drive identical Ford Fiesta Rally4 cars prepared by the Polish division of the crack WRC team, M-Sport.
The disappointment of not claiming an inaugural World Rally title is compounded by the fact this is the second year in a row the EA Codemasters employee has finished second in the WRC’s Junior category.
Virves claimed four podiums across five events to seal another championship for Estonia, mimicking countryman Ott Tänak’s top-level win in 2019.
Although Armstrong claimed three podiums, including a win at the season-opening Rally Sweden, when drop scores were taken into account the gap at the top increased thanks to the 27-year-old’s brace of disappointing fourth-placed finishes on Rally Croatia and Rally Portugal.
As a consolation, Armstrong’s co-driver, Brian Hoy, secured the Junior Co-Drivers title thanks to Virves using two navigators during the five rallies of the 2022 championship.
Armstrong, the subject of an episode of the Traxion podcast – and 2018 WRC Esports champion – had been struggling to secure sponsorship ahead of the 2022 season. However, employer EA Sports stepped in before Round 1 to fund his campaign. Its faith was instantly repaid thanks to a victory – his rally going much better than it did in 2020…
Through his work as a game designer at EA Codemasters, Armstrong’s rallying and esports expertise will come in handy as EA Sports has secured the WRC licence for 2023, as Kylotonn bow out of producing officially licenced WRC games with WRC Generations later this year.
What the future holds for the WRC gaming franchise and Armstrong’s rallying career is up for debate, but with the quality of both Codemasters’ DiRT Rally series and Armstrong’s recent results, the future looks very exciting indeed.
Have you been following the WRC and WRC Esports this year? Are you looking forward to this and next year’s WRC games? Let us know in the comments below.
Featured image: Jon Armstrong, Rally Greece 2022, McKlein, Motorsport Images