Llarena heads thrilling fight for ERC3 Junior gold
Efrén Llarena is doing all he can to win the Pirelli-supported FIA ERC3 Junior Championship title on Barum Czech Rally Zlín by topping his class after five stages.
The Rallye Team Spain driver is 3.1s ahead of title rival Sindre Furuseth (Saintéloc Junior Team) with championship pacesetter Ken Torn (Estonian Autosport Junior Team) in fifth place, 12.9s behind Llarena in his M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta R2T.
After finishing second to Furuseth on Friday night’s Zlín superspecial, Llarena took the lead from the Norwegian with the quickest time through Saturday’s opening Březová test. A second stage win on SS3 followed to give Llarena a 6.1s advantage heading to stage four, which was cancelled for a number of crews – including the entire ERC3 contingent – following Zelindo Melegari’s accident.
Despite a mistake at a junction on SS5, Furuseth was able to cut Llarena’s advantage to 3.1s following the stage, which Jean-Baptiste Franceschi won to move into third in class ahead of Erik Cais and Torn. Local driver Cais, who is 0.1s ahead of Torn, has reported brake issues.
ACCR Czech Rally Team’s Jan Talaš is sixth ahead of ERC3 newcomer Adam Březíkas. Yohan Rossel (Peugeot Rally Academy), Renault-powered Florian Bernardi and René Dohnal complete the ERC3 top 10.
ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team pair Elias Lundberg and Grégoire Munster are seventh and eighth in ERC3 Junior, followed by Estonian Autosport Junior Team’s Gregor Jeets and Czech teenager Petr Semerád.