Sun 17 Sep 2023

ERC @ 70: The Junior ERC champions so far

The 10th Junior ERC champion will be crowned on Rally Hungary next month. As part of a series of articles to mark the FIA European Rally Championship’s 70th anniversary, here’s a reminder of the first five Junior ERC title winners.

2014: Stéphane Lefebvre
Frenchman Lefebvre’s march to the inaugural Junior ERC title was far from straightforward. Following an event-ending car fire on the season-opening Rally Liepāja, Lefebvre won in the Azores and took a second successive victory in Ypres, albeit on countback after he tied on time with Andrea Crugnola when his bonnet flew open on the final stage and obstructed his view. A third class triumph on Barum Czech Rally Zlín meant his second place on Tour de Corse was enough for the crown aboard his Peugeot 208 Rally4.

2015: Emil Bergkvist
Back-to-back victories on Rally Liepāja and the Circuit of Ireland Rally not only underlined the Swede’s talent, but also helped to ensure that he would finish the year as the Junior ERC champion aboard an ADAC-supported Opel Adam R2.

2016: Marijan Griebel
With experience gained in 2014 and 2015, German Griebel became the second Opel-powered Junior ERC champion when he topped the order in 2016 courtesy of two category wins. Notably, Griebel’s father Jürgen was Armin Kremer’s mechanic when the German became European champion in 2001. Kremer has been a keen supporter of the younger Griebel ever since.

2017: Chris Ingram
Runner-up to team-mate Marijan Griebel in 2016, Briton Ingram took the Junior ERC crown at his fourth attempt – but only after he got the better of fellow Opel factory driver Jari Huttunen on the Rally Liepāja decider, which he won for his third first-place finish of the season.

2018: Mārtiṇš Sesks
In a year when Tom Kristensson, Efrén Llarena and Simon Wagner all emerged, it was Mārtiṇš Sesks who came away with the title prize, a mere five points ahead of Opel team-mate Kristensson, however. For a driver with limited Tarmac experience, the two wins scored by Latvian Sesks were both on sealed-surface events – on Rally di Roma Capitale and Barum Czech Rally Zlín. Diogo Gago’s achievements in 2018 should not be overlooked. The Portuguese won the first two rounds but was unable to continue his campaign.

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