Thu 23 Feb 2023

Italian talents added to MRF’s ERC line-up

Andrea Mabellini and co-driver Virginia Lenzi will step up to the leading category in this year’s FIA European Rally Championship, armed with support from Indian brand MRF Tyres.

The Italian pairing, both aged in their early twenties, will use to a Škoda Fabia Rally2 for their first season in the ERC’s top-flight, kicking off their campaign next month at Rally Serras de Fafe (10 - 12 March). They will compete for the MRF Tyres Dealer Team, which operates in conjunction with the main Team MRF Tyres squad.

Mabellini piloted a front-wheel drive Renault Clio Rally4 in last year's championship, finishing runner-up in the hotly contested ERC4 category. This season marks a big progression for the 23-year-old as he tackles his first full campaign with four-wheel machinery.

The car will be prepared by RaceSeven - the same outfit which looks after the steed of championship-winning team-mates Efrén Llarena and Sara Fernández.

“This is really exciting news for us,” Mabellini said, “and I want to say a massive thank you to MRF Tyres and all of our partners who have made this possible.

"We will compete with the Fabia Rally2 Evo, I think more or less for half the season. Then, if we have the possibilities, we will move to the Fabia RS Rally2, but it all depends whether Škoda has the availability to supply us the new car.”

He added, "For sure, it will be a big step for us. We know more or less all of the rallies, but it won't be easy to jump into a Rally2 car and be as fast as some of the other guys, especially early in the season. Maybe it will be a little bit easier on Tarmac, but we need to gain the experience - especially on gravel - to be as fast as the top drivers."

Llarena and Fernández have been sharing their knowledge with their young colleagues and even attended last December’s Rally del Brunello to show support during the pair's debut using MRF rubber.

"Efrén and Sara are already helping us a lot. It's very important for me and Virgy to try and take on board everything they are teaching us," explained Mabellini, who is aiming to be setting top-five pace this season.  

"We will do our best in every rally,” he continued. “It would be amazing to get a podium this year, but I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. I think a top five on the rallies which we know very well - maybe in Italy - will be the target.”

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM