Sat 27 May 2023

ERC4 rookie Brugger’s DiRT time well spent during five-year wait

Christoph Brugger used the FIA European Rally Championship-counting ORLEN 79th Rally Poland last week to make his competitive return after a five-year break – and capitalised on his virtual event knowledge to finish in the ERC4 top 10.

Although the 27-year-old Austrian was new to the Mikołajki-based rally, he’d gained an understanding of the high-speed nature of the gravel stages when the world went into lockdown during the COVID-19 global health pandemic by playing the DiRT Rally computer game.

And having not had the funds to compete since 2017, the virtual experience gained from rallying online was a helping hand for Brugger, who was co-driven by Tamara Lutz to eighth place in ERC4.

“I chose Poland [for my return] because always in the Corona times I drove Rally Poland on DiRT Rally,” said Brugger. “Of course I didn’t know many things but it was a good place for my restart.”

Brugger was tipped for the top when he joined Raimund Baumschlager’s respected BRR team to drive a Škoda Fabia Super 2000 on events in Austria and Germany between 2013 and 2014 while he was still a teenager. But when funds ran dry, Brugger was left on the sidelines.

“I drove before two races in the FIA World Rallycross Championship and some races in the Austrian and German rally championships but I had a little break because of the budget but every driver has this problem,” explained Brugger.

After making it through all 16 stages in Poland last weekend in a Waldherr Motor-Sport Opel Corsa Rally4, Brugger said: “It was really, really tough, the ruts were so big with big rocks everywhere. I take no risks and just drove through the stages. It paid off and I’m really, really happy with my comeback and let’s see how it goes in the future.

“I hope to do more rallies this year, maybe Barum or Hungary and I have more time now to search for budget. Of course I would like to do all the events but it’s not realistic. But hopefully we can get more money for more rallies.”

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