May the (force) be with them: ERC Juniors line up*...
A number of rising talents have registered for the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC1 Junior and ERC3 Junior categories, currently on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Although the focus remains on the health and safety of all and the importance of following official advice, here’s a reminder of the strength of the ERC Junior community despite the unprecedent situation caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
RÅDSTRÖM REVS UP FOR ERC JUNIOR TITLE PUSH
7 January 2020: Dennis Rådström will prove his talent in the FIA European Rally Championship in 2020 after joining forces with Orsák Rallysport for an ERC3 Junior title assault. Co-driven by fellow Swede Johan Johansson, Rådström brings experience and a strong reputation from the FIA Junior World Rally Championship for his first ERC campaign when he will follow in the wheel tracks of compatriots Emil Bergkvist and Tom Kristensson.
DEVINE GETS FULL-SEASON ERC BID WITH IRISH ASN SUPPORT
9 January 2020: Callum Devine is set for a major FIA European Rally Championship campaign with support from his national ASN, Motorsport Ireland. The Irish International Driver of the Year for 2019 will build on his stage and podium-winning performance on last November’s ERC-counting Rally Hungary by contesting all eight rounds of the 2020 season with a focus on the ERC1 Junior title, which will be decided over six events. Powered by a Hyundai i20 R5, Devine 25, and co-driver Brian Hoy, 26, will receive additional support from FYTH, Curran Gate, The Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy and Hyundai Customer Racing.
YOUNG AUSTRIAN CHOOSES ERC TO LANDA EXPERIENCE
3 February 2020: Nikolai Landa has chosen the FIA European Rally Championship to continue to grow his experience, teaming up with his co-driving father Günter in ERC3 Junior. The 21-year-old from Austria is targeting three rounds of the Pirelli-supported category in 2020 with a full assault on the young driver category the ultimate aim next season.
FROM LEARNING TO COMPETING: PARDO PLOTS ERC3 JUNIOR ASSAULT
14 February 2020: Javier Pardo, one of Spain’s most promising young rally drivers, is FIA European Rally Championship-bound in 2020 after he announced an ERC3 Junior campaign in a Ford Fiesta R2T. Pardo, a graduate of the ERC Junior Experience training programme, has notched up numerous titles in his homeland, including the Spanish Junior Gravel title in 2019.
OPERATION ERC FOR GERMANY’S DINKEL
21 February 2020: Dominik Dinkel has chosen the FIA ERC1 Junior Championship for 2020 in order to “improve his skills” against “very high” competition at Rally2 level. German talent Dinkel, 27, will drive a ŠKODA Fabia R5 Evo for ROMO Motorsport alongside compatriot and long-term co-driver Christina Fürst. He will enjoy backing from sponsor Brose and mentor Michael Stoschek, who have supported his rallying since 2012.
NO JOKE BUT A DREAM: BIKER CAIS STEPS UP TO ERC1 JUNIOR
25 February 2020: Erik Cais will step up to Rally2 level in the FIA European Rally Championship – three years after injury forced him to call time on his hugely successful downhill mountain bike racing career. Cais, 20, is swapping the Ford Fiesta R2T he drove to second place in ERC3 and fourth in ERC3 Junior in 2019 for a Ford Fiesta R5 MkII under the Yacco ACCR Team banner.
POLISH CHAMPION MIKO MARCZYK READY TO FLY IN ERC
3 March 2020: National champion Miko Marczyk is preparing to fly in more ways than one when he contests the 2020 FIA ERC1 Junior Championship with backing from Polish oil company PKN Orlen, ŠKODA Polska and Volkswagen Financial Services. Szymon Gospdarczyk, who has co-driven Marczyk since midway through 2017, will continue to serve as a guiding light, while Marczyk’s partnership with Kresta Racing remains in place with the Czech outfit on hand to prepare the Rally2-specification, Michelin-equipped, ŠKODA Fabia R5 Evo.
FLYING FINN LINDHOLM RECRUITED AS TEAM MRF TYRES EXPANDS ERC BID
5 March 2020: Promising Finn Emil Lindholm will become the latest young driver to prove their talent in the FIA European Rally Championship after Team MRF Tyres announced an expansion to its ERC-based development programme. The Indian tyre company has chosen the ERC for its return to international competition in 2020, with the combination of asphalt and gravel events ideal for MRF Tyres’ ongoing data gathering and product testing. Lindholm, 23, has been recruited to join Irishman Craig Breen under the Team MRF Tyres umbrella. While Breen will compete in a Hyundai i20 R5, Lindholm will drive a ŠKODA Fabia R5 Evo. His fellow Finn, Mikael Korhonen, will co-drive.
TURN UP THE BASSAS! RALLYE TEAM SPAIN SCHOLARSHIP WINNER GRADUATES TO ERC3 JUNIOR
6 March 2020: Pep Bassas will get the opportunity to follow in countryman Efrén Llarena’s wheel tracks by stepping up from national to international level with the full backing of his national federation, RFEDA (Real Federación Española de Automovilismo). Twenty-six-year-old Bassas is joining Rallye Team Spain for an FIA ERC3 Junior Championship bid alongside co-driver Axel Coronado. They will compete in a Mavisa Sport-run, Pirelli-equipped Peugeot 208 R2.
AMAURY AIMS HIGH IN ERC3 JUNIOR
11 March 2020: Amaury Molle will embark on an FIA ERC3 Junior adventure in 2020, joining Delta Rally to drive a Peugeot 208 R2. Molle, a class winner in his homeland, has tried the young driver class for size on two previous occasions but this season will be his first full campaign in the Pirelli-supported category for Rally4 and Rally5 cars. Frenchman Florian Barral will co-drive.
FROM WATCHING TO COMPETING: BOTELHO SECURES DREAM ERC1 JUNIOR ENTRY FOR HOME RALLY
11 March 2020: Rafael Botelho will go from big fan to big chance when the FIA European Rally Championship visits his home island for the Azores Rallye. A native of Ponta Delgada, São Miguel, where the spectacular gravel event is based, Botelho will drive a ŠKODA Fabia R5 for The Racing Factory as he continues his transition from Rally4 to Rally2 level. While his agreement covers the Azores Rallye and the other events that make up his local championship, the 25-year-old is working to secure the budget to contest additional rounds of ERC1 Junior.
IT’S VAMOS TIME AS CHAMPION LLARENA SECURES ERC1 JUNIOR STEP UP IN RALLYE TEAM SPAIN CITROËN C3 R5
12 March 2020: Efrén Llarena will get the chance to prove his talent in Rally2 machinery when he steps up to the FIA ERC1 Junior Championship for 2020. After claiming an ERC3/ERC3 Junior title double in 2019, the 24-year-old has secured a full-season campaign in a Citroën C3 R5 run by Sports&You. He will enjoy the full support of Citroën Racingand the Rallye Team Spain initiative from RFEDA (Real Federación Española de Automovilismo). Sara Fernández will co-drive.
VITA IS BACK: ITALIAN JUNIOR AIMS FOR ERC GLORY
18 March 2020: Mattia Vita says he has unfinished business in the FIA European Rally Championship after he announced his ERC return. Vita, 23, belied his lack of international experience to hit a rich vein of form during his first ERC3 Junior campaign in 2018, landing a trio of top-five finishes from Rally di Roma Capitale onwards. A focus on events closer to home in 2019 meant his ERC aspirations were put on hold. But he’s back for the planned six-event ERC3 Junior season in a Pirelli-equipped Peugeot run by H Motorsport from Romania. His fellow Italian Massimiliano Bosi will co-drive.
ERC1 JUNIOR ATTACK TEMPTS TEMPESTINI
24 March 2020: World title-winning rally driver Simone Tempestini will bring his considerable talent to the FIA ERC1 Junior Championship in 2020. Italy-born Romanian Tempestini, the Junior World Rally champion from 2016, is set to contest the eight-event European championship season with fellow Romanian Sergiu Itu co-driving. The 25-year-old’s choice of Rally2 car and team will be made at a later date.
*The drivers listed above were announced prior to or in the early stages of the global coronavirus pandemic. The thoughts of the ERC family are with those people whose loved ones have passed or have fallen ill as a result of COVID-19. We are also more than aware that many jobs have been lost and people find themselves in very challenging situations. Because of this, it is vitally important that all official advice is followed.