ERC Radio reporters pick out their stars and moments of 2018
ERC Radio reporters Julian Porter (left) and Chris Rawes (right) have taken time out of their preparations for the festive season to discuss another memorable FIA European Rally Championship campaign. This is what stood out for the intrepid pair in 2018.
DRIVER OF THE YEAR
JP: Nikolay Gryazin only dropped two points in his four scores to win the ERC Junior U28 Championship and showed some great speed, taking the fight to overall champion Alexey Lukyanuk from time to time.
CR: Mārtiņš Sesks showed some amazing talent by winning the U27 title but also by demonstrating that he has matured as a driver after participating in the ERC Junior Experience. He has the attributes to become European champion and a world champion in the future. He’s quick and marketable, a bit like a young Andreas Mikkelsen.
CO-DRIVER OF THE YEAR
JP: Alexey Arnautov is not only the ERC champion co-driver for 2018 but probably the bravest co-driver in the championship alongside the ever-spectacular and ever-brave Alexey Lukyanuk.
CR: Julian thinks Alexey Arnautov is brave but I’m going with another Russian, Yaroslav Fedorov. A nice guy and also very brave sitting alongside the blisteringly quick Gryazin, Fedorov has relaxed a bit more with Nikolay’s driving this season, which has allowed him to open up a bit more to show that his ever-present mascot Porky Pig isn’t the only one in the team that can have fun.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
JP: Fabian Kreim’s improvement from the Azores through to Latvia was quite amazing and proof of his obvious talent. It was also great to see ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland making a smart move by investing in an ERC programme again and giving a young, promising driver the chance to impress outside his homeland.
CR: Despite having a surname that has taken me all season to learn to pronounce correctly, our young Turkish driver Orhan Avcioglu has the right attitude. He understood that he wasn’t going to be as quick as his U28 team-mate Chris Ingram during his first season in the ERC, but Orhan has a plan mapped out in the ERC and is sticking to it with 2018 for learning and 2019 for podiums. Plus, he also hands out some amazing snacks to the ERC Radio team at events!
TEAM OF THE YEAR
JP: Toksport WRT deserves plenty of credit, guiding Chris Ingram during his transition from R2 to R5 machinery and entering a car for Orhan Avcioglu on event round.
CR: This is a real hard one for me to choose as both ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team and Saintéloc Junior Team have shown great commitment to the ERC and also in developing the skills of their young drivers. But if I have to pick one then it would have to be ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team by a slim margin. They have a great professional set-up in the service park, the ADAM is strong and quick and they have developed some very quick drivers too, U27 runner-up Tom Kristensson being one of them and one to watch in the future.
MOMENT OF THE YEAR
JP: Efrén Llarena and Sara Fernández’s crash on Rally Islas Canarias was a big blow as they were in the battle for the lead at the time. But what stood out for me was Sara’s determination to get going again, despite the front wheel being ripped off.”
CR: The drama that unfolded in the final kilometres of the Cyprus Rally’s final stage was amazing, Nasser Al-Attiyah’s hope for a victory were shattered with a puncture, Bruno Magalhães could have won but Simos Galatariotis just did enough by 0.6s. The drama was palpable, pure ERC!