Nil Solans - Rally Serras de Fafe - Felgueiras - Cabreira e Boticas
Rally Serras de Fafe - Felgueiras - Cabreira e Boticas marked the beginning of a new season, and there was a new driver topping the timesheets as Solans stole the show.
The 29-year-old left his rivals floundering as relentless rain, thick fog and muddy gravel tracks bombarded the season opener in northern Portugal. Having posted the fourth-fastest time in qualifying, Solans took a gamble - choosing to open the road in Saturday's opening leg.
That gamble well and truly paid off as the Spaniard outpaced the entire field by a second per kilometre in the day's opener before racking up several more stage wins to end the day with almost two minutes in hand.
Solans eased off on Sunday's drier gravel stages, managing his lead to perfection to claim his maiden ERC triumph by 55.7sec from Georg Linnamäe's similar Volkswagen Polo with home hero Armindo Araújo third.
Robert Virves - ORLEN 78th Rally Poland
M-Sport Poland entered Virves in one of its Ford Fiesta Rally3 cars and he used the high-speed gravel event as a shakedown for his home WRC round in Estonia, which took place a couple of weeks later.
From the outset, Virves proved exactly why he is now the 2022 FIA Junior WRC champion. Despite the Mikołajki event marking his debut with English pace notes, the 22-year-old won every single stage to win the category by more than five minutes as well as finishing a mighty 13th overall.
A top-ten overall finish could well have been on the cards but Virves opened the road on Sunday and had to deal with loose surface conditions as a result.
Mārtiņš Sesks - Tet Rally Liepāja
Sesks' early-year performances in the ERC Open category caught the eye of Team MRF Tyres, who put him in a Škoda Fabia Rally2 for his home rally. The Latvian repaid their faith by leading from start to finish.
Armed with a brand-new tyre from the Indian rubber giant, the 22-year-old was in a league of his own and won all 12 stages to head a dream 1-2 ahead of team-mate Efrén Llarena.
The result wasn’t just impressive - it was history-making. Sesks became the first-ever driver to win every stage of an ERC rally.
Jan Kopecký - Barum Czech Rally Zlín
Kopecký won his home rally for a record-breaking 10th time with another clinical performance on the tricky Czech roads.
Having duly earned himself a hefty 34.6sec advantage early on, the Czech ace’s approach switched to lead preservation on Sunday. He took fewer risks, made no mistakes and, despite failing to win any of the day's stages, still pulled further away from his rivals to end 37.5sec clear at the top.
Laurent Pellier - RallyRACC Catalunya - Costa Daurada
Driving a front-wheel drive Opel Corsa Rally4, the Frenchman produced a giant-killing performance to finish sixth overall at the season finale. Such was his speed on the Catalan roads that Pellier even outpaced a number of Rally2 drivers on some stages.