Flying Finn Hokkanen: Hard competition behind ERC3 Junior return
Former Finnish two-wheel-drive champion Miika Hokkanen is embarking on a second season in the FIA ERC3 Junior Championship because of the “hard competition” he will face.
After claiming two podiums during his first international campaign in 2018 following his step up from national level, Hokkanen is now looking to make more progress in the Pirelli-supported category for drivers born on or after 1 January 1992 competing in R2 cars.
Hokkanen has joined Spanish outfit Mavisa Sport and recruited fellow Finn Rami Suorsa to co-drive his Peugeot 208 R2. He will make his 2019 debut on the all-asphalt Rally Islas Canarias from 2-4 May.
“Last year was my first season in ERC, a logical step from Finnish championship,” said the 22-year-old university student. “The ERC Junior series is great with huge competition with very talented drivers. It’s always a pleasure to race against hard competition. Also the races are very different to each other, so you get to learn different surfaces.”
Of his aims for 2019, Hokkanen continued: “I don’t think it was a strong debut season, hopefully we can make this one better. We got two podiums in the last two races. But the opponents are strong so we really need to be in a top form to make good results.”
Hokkanen, who is planning a one-day test on Gran Canaria ahead of Rally Islas Canarias, delayed starting his ERC Junior season following surgery on an old shoulder injury during the winter. “It’s been a big push to get the shoulder to rally condition,” Hokkanen explained. “At the moment I don’t know if it will work or not. We will find it out in Canarias.”
And after watching the season-opening Azores Rallye from afar, Hokkanen is in no doubt about the level of competition he will face, which includes his team-mate and round one winner Efrén Llarena from Spain. “The opposition in ERC3 Junior is always tough,” Hokkanen said. “I think there is many drivers who will be fighting for the top places this year.”
Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “After some tough luck at the start of his first season of international competition in ERC Junior, Miika made lots of progress and his podiums in the final two events were a reward for his effort and talent. It’s great to have him back for another season when we are sure he’ll put into use everything he has learned since graduating from national level.”