Thu 27 Apr 2023

Home is where the rally is for ERC returnee Cerny

Jan Černý is getting set for his FIA European Rally Championship comeback next week – thanks to the sale of his old rally car and via a spot of rallycross.

Černý’s last ERC outing was on his home round, Barum Czech Rally Zlín, in August 2019. Since then, the 32-year-old has concentrated on events in his homeland as well as an FIA WRC3 campaign in 2023, which netted two wins and three second-place finishes.

For 2023, Černý is mounting a bid for glory in the Canary Islands championship, which he’s contesting with Hyundai Canarias Motorsport. He finished second on the season-opening Rallye Orvecame Norte-Trofeo Cicar in Tenerife earlier this month and makes his second appearance on next week’s Rally Islas Canarias, which also counts as round two of the ERC.

“This year I get the great, great opportunity to compete in the Canary Islands championship where I am part of the Hyundai Canarias team,” said the former Junior WRC driver, who will be behind the wheel of a Hyundai i20 N Rally2. “Two weeks ago we did the race in Tenerife and the next race is in Gran Canaria as part of the European Rally Championship so that’s more than great for me to be back in the ERC and also on this nice rally.”

On the surface, securing an official seat with Hyundai Canarias Motorsport is perhaps unusual for a driver from Czech Republic. However, as Černý explained, he’s almost a native Canary Islander and is even taking Spanish lessons.

“We have got a small apartment in Tenerife and I spend there some time,” he said. “In the last year I spent more time there than in Czech Republic so for me it is starting to be like home, minimum like a second home.

“Then about five years ago I sold my Fabia to my friend Angel Bello, who is from Tenerife. He now has another car but last year he invited me for one race, a hillclimb. I was there as a zero car with a Hyundai R5. Then we speak about some possibilities about what I can do there and he helped me so much with this cooperation with Hyundai and I am now an official Hyundai Canarias driver.”

Černý has one Rally Islas Canarias start, a truncated affair dating back to 2017 (pictured above and below), as he recalled. “I did only four stages and I had a big crash so it wasn’t the perfect race for me but what I remember is the stages were nice and the fans were amazing.

“The race in Tenerife is not the same but the stages are similar, also the weather. I am not a specialist in Gran Canaria but from what I remember and from watching onboards some stages are the same or similar or maybe the reverse. But it’s six years ago since I was there.”

While the Canary Islands championship will be Černý’s priority when Rally Islas Canarias takes place from 4 - 6 May, the chance to compete against the ERC regulars is an exciting prospect.

“I have a great opportunity to fight for a good result in the overall classification and this will be very important for me,” he said. “The plan this year was to try to fight for WRC3 title again but I lost some partners so now the Canary Islands is our main goal.

“I will also do two rounds of the European Rallycross Championship [starting in Hungary this weekend] and maybe some races with Hyundai in the Czech championship. I already did Kowax Valašská Rally ValMez, we retired with an exhaust problem but we already had good speed so I was quite happy.”

Top action photo: Javier Viera

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