Wed 01 Mar 2023

Bring on the big ERC competition, says Mareš

Filip Mareš can’t wait for the 2023 FIA European Rally Championship to get underway in Fafe, northern Portugal, next week because of the high-level competition he’ll face.

Czech star Mareš is one of an incredible near-40 registered ERC drivers in Rally2 machinery contesting Rally Serras de Fafe, Felgueiras, Boticas, Vieira do Minho e Cabeceiras de Basto from 10 - 12 March.

He will do so in a Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo prepared by PMX Rally Management and run under the ACCR Entry Engineering banner on Pirelli tyres. His compatriot Radovan Bucha will co-drive.

“It’s difficult to say what result we can achieve because we have only recently seen the entry list for the first event and there are some really big names of this sport, Craig Breen, Hayden Paddon, Mads Østberg and many others taking part,” said the 31-year-old. “But for sure we are not here to play the game in the middle of the field, so we want to prove that we have the potential to fight for the top result in every race.

“When I saw the names on the entry list I was really happy because every good stage time, every potential victory in the stage against these drivers, it must be really nice for every driver, me included. This is something that motivates me and I’m super-happy that these drivers are in the game and I’m really looking forward to competing against them and to have the possibility to do the same stages as these drivers. They are the benchmark for almost all the field and it’s really good news for the European championship to have them.”

While Mareš is traditionally as fast on gravel as he is on Tarmac, he concedes he’ll face a steep learning curve in Fafe.

“For sure it will be more difficult for us on events like Fafe because I haven’t been there to do a rally or spectate, so I don’t know the area,” he said. “It’s going to be a really demanding race for me. But throughout the season I’m really quite confident we have the speed on Tarmac and I am quite sure we are also strong on gravel. My personal target is to, especially on gravel, do some steps forward and to be faster and faster with every stage, especially for the first event of the season.”

Mareš will compete in the previous-generation Fabia Rally2 Evo but is convinced that he won’t be at a disadvantage compared to his rivals in the latest version of the Czech machine.

“Our car will be well prepared for this challenge and I feel quite confident in terms of this car and I know the car and maybe this will be an advantage for me, especially at this moment at the beginning of the season,” he said.

Mareš is planning to contest all eight rounds of the 2023 ERC in addition to the Czech championship opener next month. He prepared for Rally Serras de Fafe, Felgueiras, Boticas, Vieira do Minho e Cabeceiras de Basto with a rollout test in his homeland last weekend (pictured), covering 30 kilometres in the process. A further test is planned in Portugal early next week.

Testing image: Ondra Beneda

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