Tue 03 Jan 2023

Llarena’s ERC title ‘impressive’, says World Touring Car winner Azcona

FIA World Touring Car Cup champion Mikel Azcona has described Efrén Llarena’s capture of the FIA European Rally Championship as “very impressive”.

Co-driven by Sara Fernández, Llarena, 27, became Spain’s first ERC champion since Antonio Zanini in 1980 when he took the title for Team MRF Tyres on Barum Czech Rally Zlín last August. Azcona, meanwhile, won the 2022 WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup, the first Spaniard to claim the category’s top honour.

Speaking after meeting up with Llarena during the FIA Prize Giving in Italy last month, Azcona said: “Efrén is a big friend of mine, we were driving in karting when we were kids. We are similar ages and we live very close together in Spain. We know each other since our karting career and we had the opportunity to speak a little bit in Bologna.

“When we finished in karting he went one way to rally and I went to touring car racing. We had different careers but in the end I was very happy to finish at the FIA Prize Giving together with Efrén.

“He was the European champion, I was world champion and we were speaking a lot about that. It was very impressive what we achieved and I’m very happy for him as well. What he did is amazing and it was very nice to see him at the event. He deserved to win the championship.”

While touring car racing remains Azcona’s priority, the 26-year-old would relish the chance to try rallying for size.

“For sure I would love to try,” he said. “I didn’t try it in my life but as I am with Hyundai Motorsport, they are doing WRC and have Rally2 cars, it’s something I am already speaking with them about.

"I don’t know what kind of event but I will try and I think they are happy to give me the opportunity to try something in a rally car. It’s something I would like to do and I am trying to do it. With Hyundai, it’s the best place to do it.”

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