Alonso: ERC2 crown a dream come true**
Juan Carlos Alonso has described winning the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC2 title** as a “dream” come true.
Alonso, who commutes from his native Argentina to compete in the ERC’s showroom category, secured the championship at his third attempt with a hard-fought fourth place on the Cyprus Rally last weekend.
Needing to complete the demanding gravel event to make sure of ERC2 gold, Alonso and co-driver Juan Pablo Monasterolo had to battle a major brake issue to reach the finish in Larnaca where an emotional Alonso spoke about his achievement in a Proracing-run Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.
“After the commitment, the hard work, this result is incredible,” said a jubilant Alonso. “I am very happy and very, very proud of my co-driver. My car, my team are amazing and all the people involved in this project. My family, my sponsor, our co-ordinator, all the people who love us, this is for them.”
Alonso started the Cyprus Rally knowing that 18 points would be enough to prevent his closest challenger, Andrea Nucita, from taking the ERC2 crown on the season-closing Rally Hungary next month. He and Monasterolo therefore adopted a cautious approach and were comfortably on course for title glory when the brake issue took hold and resulted in frantic roadside repairs as well as plenty of work by his team.
“We managed all the troubles and the key was to never surrender,” said Alonso. “Even when we were under water we never gave up because we knew anything could happen. To be an FIA champion is amazing. I turn 50 soon and I am in the last stages of my career so this is a dream for me. I haven’t stopped crying since the end of the last stage. The ERC will be home for all my life. I love it.”
Alonso began his ERC2 campaign with victory on the Azores Rallye in March. After retiring from Rally Islas Canarias with a mechanical issue, the Argentine hit back with a second victory on PZM 76th Rally Poland, before finishing second to title rival Nucita on Barum Czech Rally Zlín. With ERC2 drivers counting their best four scores from a possible eight, Alonso’s fourth-place finish in Cyprus means he cannot be caught with Rally Hungary from 8-10 November left. Nucita starts the Tarmac event leading the Abarth Rally Cup.
Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “Juan Carlos and Juan Pablo’s commitment to the ERC by travelling to each event from Argentina must be admired and their title success in ERC2 is a fitting reward for their commitment. We offer them our utmost congratulations.”
**Subject to confirmation of the results by the FIA