Mon 21 Mar 2022

Wagner makes ERC comeback a winner

Simon Wagner returns to the FIA European Rally Championship at the Azores Rallye this week a winner.

The 2021 Austrian champion is planning a multi-event ERC bid in a Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo run by the Eurosol Racing Team from Hungary.

Wagner, who has enrolled in the ERC-Michelin Talent Factory for young stars in Rally2 cars, last competed on São Miguel island in 2019 and has only managed four ERC appearances since, with last season’s Barum Czech Rally Zlín marking his most recent outing.

But he returns to the spectacular gravel event high on confidence after winning last weekend’s Rebenland Rallye, round one of the Austrian championship alongside co-driving partner Anne Katharina Stein.

Stein was deputising for Wagner’s regular navigator Gerald Winter, who sat out the event to attend the birth of his daughter last week but will be back in action in the Azores.

Following his Rebenland Rallye triumph, the 28-year-old Wagner said: “We defended the number 1 and took the full points with the best time on the Powerstage. A brilliant rally, a perfect car, an exciting fight and a top result, that’s how we hope it will continue. Thanks to Eurosol Racing Team Hungary and Anne for a perfect job and to all our supporters.”

Wagner’s inclusion on the Azores Rallye entry list is another plus for the new-era ERC. A Junior ERC graduate, Wagner brings more promise and talent to the championship. He was running in the top five in Zlín last season when a driveshaft failure forced his exit. And he’s previously taken podium finishes in Junior ERC at both Rally2 and Rally4 level when the championship operated a two-tier structure in the past.

Azores Rallye Trailer

“It’s amazing to be back in the ERC but it’s been a very hard winter to secure all the budget,” said Wagner. “And we have gone directly from the first round of the Austrian championship to the Azores so we’re quite exhausted. But we’ve been to the Azores twice and have some experience there. Both times we were fighting for the Junior ERC podium but never finished due to problems. Hopefully this time we can finish in proper style.”

He continued: “A top five would be brilliant, especially after the pace we had on the Barum Rally last year. Although we are hoping for a good result but we’re also trying to enjoy this event as it’s one of the most beautiful rallies in the world. We’re just happy to get the opportunity to be there in a top Rally2 car.”

Following the Azores Rallye, Wagner will contest Rally Islas Canarias in May and Barum Czech Rally Zlín in August, but he’s also hoping to add up to three more events to his ERC schedule, which will be in addition to the defence of his Austrian title.

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