Mon 04 Sep 2023

Junior ERC stars Hungary for title success

The battle for FIA Junior ERC Championship title honours is building up to an exciting climax on Rally Hungary next month with the top two drivers in the Hankook-equipped category just four points apart after five action-packed rounds.

Ahead of the season decider from 6 - 8 October, Norbert Maior holds a slender advantage over Roberto Daprà with 30 points still up for grabs. Although financial constraints appear to have brought Ola Nore’s challenge to a premature conclusion, the Norwegian remains in title contention, 12 points adrift of Maior, should he be able to secure a return to duty.

After finishing fourth on Barum Czech Rally Zlín last month, Romanian Maior moved to the top of the provisional standings. He said: “It’s not the best result but it’s minus one event [in the championship] and hopefully this is our minus because it’s not great to finish in fourth position in terms of the championship fight. It is what it is, and I have learned when something is not going like you planned it’s better to stay like this and not do extra things to achieve what you can’t.”

The 25-year-old continued: “For sure the crash in the test was not helpful for us but we finished Barum and now we will prepare for Rally Hungary because there will be a lot of fights with the guys like Timo [Schulz], Daprà and hopefully Nore will come so it will be a fight to watch for sure."

While Maior has previous Rally Hungary experience to call on, his fellow Peugeot 208 Rally4 driver Daprà has never previously contested the sealed-surface event based in Nyíregyháza in the north-easterly Zemplén region.

Daprà, 22, overcame brake and powersteering problems to finish third in Junior ERC on Barum Czech Rally Zlín to follow up on his Rally di Roma Capitale category victory in July.

“The points are very important points for the championship and Hungary will decide all,” said the ACI Team Italia-supported driver. “I never did Hungary before so we will see.”

Meanwhile, 2022 Junior ERC champion Laurent Pellier starts this week’s EKO Acropolis Rally in Greece in contention for the FIA Junior WRC Championship crown. While the Frenchman trails William Creighton in the M-Sport Poland-run category by 29 points, with double points on offer, Pellier remains in the title fight.

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