Munster masked: bad luck means ERC talent’s promise unfulfilled in Liepaja
Gregoire Munster’s bid to fly high in the FIA European Rally Championship on Rally Liepāja never took off after a spate of woes masked the Luxembourg driver’s obvious potential.
After finishing a close runner-up to Oliver Solberg in last season’s ERC1 Junior title battle, Munster enrolled in the ERC-MICHELIN Talent Factory and had been expected to run at the front on the opening two rounds of the season in Poland and Latvia. But bad luck on both gravel events have hampered the 21-year-old’s progress aboard the Hyundai i20 R5 he shares with co-driver Louis Louka.
On Rally Liepāja earlier this month Munster was unable to take part in practice and qualifying due to a rollcage issue, which left him 32nd on the start list for leg one.
But a damaged front-left tyre six kilometres before the finish of the opening stage meant he couldn’t capitalise on his lower road position, while his hopes of a strong finish were also wrecked.
“We did not want to make the same mistake we did in Poland by driving on the punctured tyre so we stopped and changed,” said Munster. “With the dust it was a bit difficult with the nuts not getting out of the nut gun so we lost time and that’s it. We knew our road position would be an advantage in smooth sections but in the rougher sections we knew it would be more difficult and we punctured because of a big rock that had been pulled out from a driver before. It was in the racing line, we tried to avoid it but with the high speed it was impossible. But that’s just an obstacle we face in this beautiful sport.”
Munster, who was also delayed by a pop-off valve issue, eventually finished P17 and fifth among the ERC-MICHELIN Talent Factory contenders. “It’s a bit frustrating because we’re here to perform and we want to do some good times. Getting obstacles like [we had] is a bit annoying but, okay, we have to deal with it. We were taking experience and the times were not so bad [on day two], that’s the positive.”