This year’s FIA European Rally Championship has had a little bit of everything. Picking just five moments was a challenge in itself, but here’s what I eventually settled on:
Llarena’s Power Stage push
Efrén Llarena and Sara Fernández’s drive through the Azores Rally Power Stage was one of the most thrilling bits of onboard I’ve seen all year. I’m sure I won’t be the only person to have chosen this - but it’s too good to not include. Sorry!
Efrén and Sara somehow managed to turn a 6.1sec deficit into a 2.7sec victory in just 10.22km - marking a maiden ERC win for the crew and for Team MRF Tyres. They drove amazingly and totally caught local hero Ricardo Moura by surprise. Definitely the stage of the season for me.
Sesks’ Latvia win
Having followed Mārtiņš Sesks’ progress since the beginning of his career, it was amazing to witness him and co-driver Renars Francis triumph at Tet Rally Liepāja.
Mārtiņš has lived in host city Liepāja all his life. Talk about pressure! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not unusual for a local driver to win at home - but to win in the way he did, with the fastest time on every single stage? That was just pure dominance.
Pellier’s season-long performance
We’ve all been pretty blown away by Laurent Pellier and Marine Pelamourgues’ season in the ERC4 Junior category, and for good reason too.
To put things into perspective, they won five out of six rallies and took 52 stage wins. The next best driver, in terms of stage wins, was Toni Herranen with 10. The only blot in Pellier’s copybook was a rollover in Latvia but that doesn’t take anything away from what was an incredible performance.
Soria’s Clio title
The Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT is a fantastic series for young drivers and, in 2022, Paulo Soria and co-driver Marcelo Der Ohannesian have been the stars of the show.
The Argentine duo took soared to the title with four wins from five starts and they were only robbed of a clean sweep by an early puncture at Barum Czech Rally Zlín.
I’ve been really impressed by Paulo this season - he’s shown his true speed whilst also maintaining a high level of consistency, which is equally important. Definitely one to watch for the future.
Javier Pardo has made some major steps this season, but two things stand out.
First, how he rode the edge of the Sete Cidades volcano to let Simone Tempestini pass whilst nursing a broken driveshaft at the Azores Rallye, and secondly, when he later swapped the driveshafts from front to rear to try and limit the time loss in the final stage.
I was so happy for Javier when he secured second in the championship. He deserved that result simply for just never giving up.