Arai joins Stohl's STARD operation for ERC bid
Hiroki Arai is the latest young driver to choose the 2019 FIA European Rally Championship to prove their talent and build their experience of international competition.
The 25-year-old from Japan has joined Manfred Stohl’s STARD Driver Pool for a programme of ERC and Japanese championship events. Eligible for ERC1 Junior, the category for young stars in R5 cars, Arai will also be involved in future STARD motorsport projects as a development driver.
Arai will follow in the footsteps of his famous rally-driving father Toshi Arai by working with Stohl, a winner of three European championship rallies in the past. Arai Sr drove for Stohl Racing in the ERC in 2013.
Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, welcomed confirmation of Arai’s European championship campaign. “It’s really good news to welcome a driver of Hiroki’s ability and potential to the ERC family. As well as building his experience for future progression, Hiroki will go up against fellow young, talented and like-minded drivers in ERC1 Junior. His programme of events also makes a lot of sense with two rallies on asphalt and two rallies on gravel.”
Stohl said: “We are very pleased to have Hiroki in our Driver Pool for rally and research and development activity. We have worked with Hiroki already in his very early days as a rally driver. Hiroki is very talented and I see a prosperous future for him among the world rally driver’s elite in the near future. Besides our big focus on World RX, it certainly feels good to start a very exciting rally project with STARD as well. The 2019 season will be very exciting and we look forward to some very strong results for Hiroki.”
Arai, who has one ERC start to his name from 2016, will begin his ERC campaign on Rally Liepāja before going on to contest Rally Poland, Rally di Roma Capitale and Barum Czech Rally Zlín.
Meanwhile, Chris Ingram beat Alexandros Tsouloftas to ERC1 Junior honours on the season-opening Azores Rallye last month with Miguel Correia finishing second. The championship continues on the all-asphalt Rally Islas Canaras from 2-4 May.