The last round of the 2023 World Rally Championship season takes place this weekend, with Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Maciej Szczepaniak fighting for the title in the WRC2 Challenger category. The Polish duo hold second position in the standings but they can still add to their tally – while the leading Finnish crew have already contested the maximum amount of seven rounds. The ORLEN Rally Team crew face a huge challenge and strive to make amends after last year’s event in Japan, when they unfortunately retired from the rally.
Kajetanowicz and Szczepaniak have enjoyed another successful season in the World Rally Championship, claiming their fifth consecutive top-three finish in the championship standings. This impressive achievement highlights top performance of the ORLEN Rally Team crew. The Polish duo focused on the WRC2 Challenger category this year, battling against other privateer competitors. Over one hundred crews took part in the championship – Kajetanowicz and Szczepaniak scored three wins (Mexico, Sardegna and Kenya), runners-up spot in Greece and third position in the Central European Rally. They did not finish the event in Chile, unfortunately damaging their suspension during the final leg.
Three crews remain in the title hunt this year: Pajari/Mälkönen (118 points), Kajetanowicz/Szczepaniak (108 points) and Gryazin/Aleksandrov (96 points). Six best scores out of seven rallies are taken into account and the championship leaders have already used their limit, while two other crews can boost their tallies in Japan. There are 25 points up for grabs – the Polish crew enjoy a slightly better position but they cannot let their concentration slip even for a moment.
– We are in Japan, having completed our testing session ahead of the final WRC round this year. Our car is prepared very well, we have proven tarmac setup after the Central European Rally. The whole ORLEN Rally Team feel great motivation, as do I, but we still face plenty of work during recce. I also have a lot of mental work on strategy, thinking about it basically every day. I want to stay calm although this is of course difficult, as this is the last rally of the season. You feel some pressure when you realise that points scored here will decide the championship outcome. I am trying to transform this pressure into motivation, to do my best in this difficult rally. However, the most important goal is to finish the season on a high – and I mean reaching my main goal here: the championship title. We are in second position in the WRC2 Challenger standings, among 103 crews – right at the top, with the best competitors in the world. I think we can be pleased with this performance and irrespective of what happens in Japan, after the rally I want to enjoy it together with my fans in Poland who have supported me over the whole season
– Kajetan Kajetanowicz, triple European Rally Champion, says ahead of Rally Japan.
Official shakedown ahead of Rally Japan takes place late on Wednesday night European time. The opening test, Toyota Stadium SSS1, starts at 11:05 CET on Thursday morning. The whole route consists of 22 tarmac stages, with total length of just over 304 competitive kilometres.
Starts of Kajetan Kajetanowicz are supported by the title partner of the ORLEN Rally Team – PKN ORLEN, as well as technical partner Delphi Technologies, Pirelli, ATC CARGO S.A., PLATINUM ORLEN OIL brand, QUAZAR LOTOS OIL brand and SJS S.A.