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French champ Michel continues rally bid in ERC

French champ Michel continues rally bid in ERC

19/04/2017 14:00

French asphalt champion Sylvain Michel has become the latest emerging talent to choose the new-for-2017 FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship as the perfect platform for career progression.

The class for young stars in R5 cars rewards its eventual champion with a coveted FIA title and a free drive in a World Rally Car on a European round of the WRC in 2018.

To control costs, drivers – who must be born on or after 1 January 1989 to be eligible – count their best four scores from a possible six with events taking place on gravel and asphalt to provide vital experience and skills for a possible future world championship campaign. Drivers also benefit from substantial airtime on Eurosport dedicated to ERC Junior U28 as well as a number of other promotional opportunities.

“It was necessary to step from national championship level and the ERC quickly proved to be the only possible choice for our budget,” said Michel, whose entry brings the total number of countries currently represented in the ERC to 17. “There is exceptional coverage on Eurosport and the level of competition is very interesting. We did not manage to be at the start of the first race in the Azores but it was inconceivable to miss Rally Islas Canarias, the first asphalt event of the season. Even though it is my favourite surface, I still have a lot to learn and the rally will undoubtedly be a major step in my development.”

While the ERC and its rallies will mark unchartered territory for Michel, his decision to continue in a Michelin-shod 2C Compétition ŠKODA Fabia R5 alongside regular co-driver Jérôme Degout will provide welcomed continuity. “We experienced many magical moments with 2C Compétition last season and it was important for me to live this adventure with them and Jérôme, who has really brought me on in terms of my driving. All Sports Management will be in charge of my programme. Add to that the ŠKODA Fabia R5 and I’m sure we can achieve beautiful things together.”

Michel, who will enjoy continued support from partners including Les Sybelles and Delta Savoie, will test in Gran Canaria on 1 May with the event taking place from 4-6 May. Before then, he will contest a 24-hour off-road event in Morocco as part of his physical preparation.

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “In Sylvain Michel, ERC Junior U28 welcomes another highly promising and accomplished driver who is keen to prove his talent in a very competitive championship. While the rallies will be all-new for Sylvain, he has all the ingredients in place to achieve his objectives in 2017.”

Szeja brothers in ERC debut

22/07/2017 12:00 - 2017

Brothers Jarek and Marcin Szeja will make their FIA European Rally Championship debuts when Rally Rzeszow hosts the fifth event of the all-action ERC season next month.

Austrian Simon Wagner has become rising star number 23 to sign up for the FIA European Rally Championship’s hugely successful Junior category in 2017 and will contest the upcoming ERC Junior Under 27 rounds in Poland and Czech Republic.

FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship leader Chris Ingram won’t be holding back when it comes to committing big on next month’s Rally Rzeszow.

TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH will use the FIA European Rally Championship to showcase its uprated GT86 CS-R3 to potential customers.

Emerging prospects from the FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship will get the chance to prove their talent against a World Rally Championship event-winning driver when Mads Østberg contests Rally Rzeszow in Poland next month (3-5 August).

Nikolay Gryazin will complete his two-event practice rally schedule ahead of his return to FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship action on Rally Rzeszow next month when he competes in Austria this weekend.