ARC Sport pair plot ERC Junior mission
ARC Sport pair Pedro Almeida and Miguel Correia are the latest young drivers aiming to prove their talent in the FIA ERC1 Junior Championship.
They will contest the Azores Rallye from 21-23 March, with top Portuguese team ARC Sport exploring the possibility of entering them on further rounds of the category for young stars in R5 cars.
ERC competition can help me grow, says Almeida
Pedro Almeida, 21, began competing regularly in 2016 and stepped up to R5 level in 2018, starting with the Azores Rallye and culminating in a season-high sixth place on Rallye Casinos do Algarve last November. He began his 2019 campaign with P10 on Rallye Serras de Fafe in late February, having switched from Ford Fiesta to ŠKODA Fabia power for this year.
“We are adapting to the ŠKODA Fabia R5, which in Fafe gave us good indicators of what we can do this season,” said Almeida. “We want to improve the pace and be closer to the top places. In the Azores we will have drivers from the European championship, a greater competitiveness that also makes us grow. At this level we want to improve and evaluate what we can do, and maybe to face the future in the ERC.”
Correia getting to grips with R5 power in ERC
Twenty-seven-year-old Miguel Correia is new to R5 technology in 2019 on the back of a first full season in rallying in 2018 when he won the ERT3 section to the Iberian Rally Trophy and claimed third in the 2WD division of the Portuguese championship in a Renault Clio R3T run by ARC Sport.
He said: “The 2018 season was unforgettable for us, since it was my first real experience in rallying and we managed to win two FIA titles, the FIA ERT3 and FIA IRT3, plus the Portuguese RC3 championship. For 2019 we have another big challenge in our hands but we are very excited to race in the Azores, one of the most beautiful gravel events in the world. It will be only my second time there and our second event ever with the Fiesta R5, after the debut in Fafe. We are still discovering the car so our goal right now is to finish all the events and get the experience, both in the rally and with the R5. It’s also a very important event for our sponsors, like Socicorreia, with all the media attention and amazing fans, so we’ll try to get to the finish line and maximize this opportunity.”
Top team ARC will capitalise on ERC experience
ARC Sport has a strong record of success in the FIA European Rally Championship. Bruno Magalhães finished runner-up in the overall ERC standings in 2017 and won last season’s EKO Acropolis Rally on his way to third in the final table. Emma Falcón claimed the ERC Ladies’ Trophy after spending the bulk of 2018 in an ARC Sport-run Citroën DS3 R3T.
Daniel Patrocinio, ARC Sport Team Manager, said: “It’s great to be again on the opening round of the ERC. For one side we have the ambition of a good overall result with our experienced drivers, Ricardo Moura/António Costa and Ricardo Teodósio/José Teixeira. On the other side we are curious about what our junior teams, Pedro Almeida/Nuno Almeida and Miguel Correia/Pedro Alves, can show alongside the other ERC1 Junior drivers. At this point of their experience in motorsport the results aren’t so important, but the best way to speed up their learning is ERC1 Junior. Although they have just confirmed their presence in the Portuguese championship, the main goal now is to confirm their presence on some other ERC events and a good result in the Azores maybe can help to convince the sponsors.”
Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator said: “The success ARC Sport has achieved in the ERC with Emma Falcón and Bruno Magalhães proves the level of this well organised, professional and capable team so it’s great they’ll be guiding two promising youngsters in ERC1 Junior. We hope their Azores Rallye appearance is just the start of their ERC adventure.”