Thursday | 12 Jan 2023

Junior ERC best way to progress, reckons past graduate Ingram

Chris Ingram has highlighted the FIA Junior ERC Championship as the perfect platform for drivers aiming to progress in international rallying.

The 2019 European champion, who is preparing to mount his latest WRC2 bid on next week’s Rallye Monte-Carlo, is a product of Junior ERC having contested the inaugural season in 2014 ahead of claiming the young driver title three years later. 

Unlike Junior WRC, which is exclusively for Ford Fiesta Rally3 cars expertly run by M-Sport Poland, Junior ERC is for drivers competing in Rally4 and Rally5 cars. They can compete for a team or run as an independent. And it’s a format that appealed to Ingram when he made the decision to step up from national level. 

“ERC Junior is the best way to progress and the best way to get into international rallying,” said Ingram. “You’re not restricted to a certain car and when I started in the ERC I pretty much turned up with my dad and a mechanic and we were able to compete. To be able to go from turning up with a family-run team to be able to win the overall championship with a professional team, the ERC made that possible so it’s very special for me.” 

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This year’s Junior ERC Championship takes place on six rounds of the main FIA European Rally Championship starting with 79th Rally Poland (May 19-21) and also including Rally Liepāja (June 16-18), Royal Rally of Scandinavia (July 6-8), Rally di Roma Capitale (July 28-30), Barum Czech Rally Zlín (August 18-20) and Rally Hungary (October 6-8).  

“Each event offers such a different challenge,” said Ingram. “And then the support you get from each place we go to, from the fans, is unbelievable. Every rally is so special individually and it just makes for an amazing championship.” 

Frenchman Laurent Pellier won the 2022 Junior ERC title ahead of Spain’s Óscar Palomo, Italian Andrea Mabellini and Finn Toni Herranen. The quartet drove four different types of Rally4 car with Pellier competing in an Opel Corsa, Palomo lining up in a Peugeot 208, Mabellini driving a Renault Clio and Herranen armed with a Ford Fiesta.