The double Polish champion, who used the FIA European Rally Championship as the launchpad to a career on the global stage, was back in the ERC – the WRC’s recognised feeder series – on last weekend’s Rally Serras de Fafe, Felgueiras, Boticas, Vieira do Minho e Cabeceiras de Basto.
With Szymon Gospodarczyk co-driving, Marczyk finished fourth overall after two days of demanding action in northern Portugal.
But while the result was particularly notable for the former indoor kart racer, the opportunity to try out his new-for-2023 Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 was even more significant for his upcoming WRC2 campaign.
“For sure it was a very good event for us,” said the 27-year-old. “We were starting the season very early with the first round of the ERC and with zero experience in the new Fabia RS Rally2 car. On the test there were muddy conditions, fog and we did around 20 kilometres only before the Free Practice and Qualifying Stage. But that was already good with the third [fastest] time. I felt the car was good and I felt the good potential but all the time we were in the fog about the set-ups, sometimes good, sometimes it could be better.
“On the first day it was good, we could choose a high starting position because it gave us an advantage over our competitors. On the second day from the morning I was also in a good rhythm but in the second loop in the ruts I slowed down a little bit. Maybe I had a problem with my perception but when I am trying to avoid the punctures I am always dropping down the speed too much but I am working on it.
“I remember two years ago I lost around 25-30sec to Dani Sordo but now I am losing 10sec to Hayden Paddon and Mats Østberg, which means we are still improving and in two or three years more we will catch them.”
Of his third fastest time on Friday afternoon’s Qualifying Stage, Marczyk explained where the rapid pace had come from.
“That’s the new Škoda car and the Michelin tyres,” he said. “Okay the stage was easy because usually the qualifying stages are easy for me because they are shorter and I can memorise a lot. My pacenotes are not as good as my driving technique and this is why sometimes I am dropping down with the speed and on some specific stages I am slower, but I am working all the time on it and it’s a long process to get the proper rhythm during the first run of the rally on the long stages.
“But even on this rally in the muddy conditions and on the stages that were foggy I was quite in the speed which is a big improvement in the development from my side.”