Gryazin returns to take up ERC prize drives
Nikolay Gryazin has confirmed the two rallies he will contest as his prize drives from promoter Eurosport Events for winning the FIA ERC1 Junior Championship in 2018.
The Russian, 21, was given the choice of contesting any two rounds of the 2019 FIA European Rally Championship and has opted for the asphalt-only Rally di Roma Capitale (19-21 July) and Barum Czech Rally Zlín (16-18 August).
He will receive €50,000 from Eurosport Events for each rally he contests for a total of €100,000 and has enlisted the services of existing team Sports Racing Technologies to run him and co-driver Yaroslav Fedorov in a ŠKODA Fabia R5.
“There were other ERC rallies that are also nice like Rally Liepāja but we are choosing two Tarmac rallies because in the World Rally Championship there is not so much Tarmac and this experience will be important,” Gryazin explained. “They are both difficult races with a lot of competitors, and it will be useful for us to compare with all the fast guys.”
He continued: “We expect to drive clean and have fun. We are not driving for points because we are not in the championship. We are using the races for the set-up and for the experience and this is really good for us. But it will not be easy because, on Tarmac, it is difficult to be on the limit, to be very fast. You need to understand the road. These two rallies will be more like race training than going for a result.”
Since winning the ERC1 Junior crown on Rally Liepāja in October 2018, Gryazin has contested the world championship rallies in Sweden, Corsica, Portugal and Sardinia. He will enter this weekend’s Shell Helix Rally Estonia before switching his focus back to asphalt for next week’s Rally di Roma Capitale in Italy.
“Last year was a nice season in the ERC, now we are enjoying the world championship,” Gryazin said. “It’s not easy and it’s difficult to understand how to drive at first because there is a lot of weight on the brain as you are thinking a lot.
“The ERC really helped me but in the world championship the stages are longer and if you lift the pedal somewhere it’s easy to lose six positions to the front. You really have to work harder because there are a lot of guys with experience of the stages from the previous years. They know the conditions and they know the moments when to push.
“In the ERC you don’t have so much damaged roads [because you pass earlier in an R5 car], you just take the line and feel the grip. In the world championship you also need to have tactics. I’m just trying to do my best, to understand when I can drive faster. I try to improve my skills.”
ERC1 Junior is for drivers born on or after 1 January 1991 competing in R5 cars. Marijan Griebel won the inaugural title in 2017 after stepping up as the ERC3 Junior champion from 2016. Gryazin followed last season with Chris Ingram currently on top of the standings with two rounds remaining.