Mission accomplished: Røkland secures ERC3 Junior campaign, plots title challenge
Norwegian promise Steve Røkland is aiming high in 2019 after confirming his return to the FIA European Rally Championship.
The talented 26-year-old will contest the Pirelli-supported ERC3 Junior category in an all-new Ford Fiesta R2. Compatriot Marius Fuglerud has been recruited as Røkland’s new co-driver.
Having outlined last month his plans to compete in ERC3 Junior, Røkland has his hopes set on the FIA class title – and the prize of two ERC rallies in a Motorsport Italia ŠKODA Fabia R5 in 2020.
“The ERC is a really good championship with some really great rallies and the competition is really strong as well,” said Røkland, who scored two ERC Junior podiums earlier in his career.
Røkland currently has the budget in place for three events but hopes to boost his funds to enable a five-rally campaign – ERC3 Junior drivers count their best four scores from a possible six.
“The hope is to do five rallies, I can challenge for the title,” said Røkland. “I have experience of most of the rallies, even if it’s just the recce or if it’s like Rally Liepāja, which was on snow when I did it.”
Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “Steve’s return to the ERC is really good news. He proved his talent in the past with some top performances and the experience he’s gained since his last ERC appearance in 2016 can only make him an even better driver.”
As well as scoring three ERC Junior podiums in seven starts, Røkland lifted the FIA Celtic Rally Trophy ERT Junior crown in 2018 when he was also a class winner in the British championship. He took the Class 1 title in Norway in 2016, having enjoyed similar success two years previously.
Røkland joins Czech Erik Cais from the bulging ERC3 Junior entry in opting for M-Sport Poland’s new Fiesta R2T, which is powered by a 200hp, EcoBoost engine and comes with updated gearbox, suspension and chassis.