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Starts: Thursday, June 27, 2024 at 8:00:00 AM
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Starts: Thursday, June 13, 2024 at 12:00:00 PM
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Thu 16 Feb 2023

Strong ERC competition suits Virves just fine

Robert Virves has highlighted the “good competition” in the FIA European Rally Championship behind his decision to contest next month’s Rally Serras de Fafe, Felgueiras, Boticas, Vieira do Minho e Cabeceiras de Basto.

Virves, the winner of the FIA Junior WRC Championship in 2022, has progressed to WRC2 level for this season as part of his prize and is planning a programme of practice rallies ahead of world championship events he contests.

He tackled Rally Elverum in Norway prior to last week’s Rally Sweden and is preparing to use Portugal’s ERC-counting event in Fafe to get ready for May’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal, should it form part of his WRC2 campaign.

“I want to go to WRC rallies with some testing and to be well prepared [and Fafe] looked like a good option for the rougher rallies,” Virves explained. “As a bonus there are some stages the same from WRC Portugal in the same area. That’s how the idea came.”

Virves, 22, made his ERC debut last year and scored a brace of ERC3 victories in a Ford Fiesta Rally3. He’s stepped up to a RedGrey-run Ford Fiesta Rally2 for 2023 and has joined forces with Portuguese co-driver Hugo Magalhães, a Fafe resident no less.

“Hugo can help me a lot,” Virves said. “But there’s also the competition in ERC that’s important. There’s no point just to drive. If you have good competition then it always helps more and in the ERC there is good competition.”

Virves was ninth among the WRC2 contenders in 18th overall on Rally Sweden after a technical issue struck on leg one and resulted in the Estonian picking up a time penalty.

“Of course the finish result is not perfect but I never really looked on that, the main thing was to show some speed in places and we made it.”

Rally Serras de Fafe, Felgueiras, Boticas, Vieira do Minho e Cabeceiras de Basto takes place from 10 - 12 March.