Sun 12 Nov 2023

ERC @ 70: Double Junior ERC champion Griebel’s special moment revealed

It’s not widely known but Marijan Griebel led last month’s Central European Rally from start to finish.

Having recently claimed his third German title, Griebel was called up to drive the course-opening zero car on the penultimate event of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship season.  

While Griebel wasn’t driving at fully competitive speed on the challenging asphalt tests, the 34-year-old was certainly not backing off aboard the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 he shared with co-driver Tobias Braun in his crucial role of checking each stage was ready for action.  

Prior to focusing on events closer to home, Griebel was an FIA European Rally Championship sensation, taking the Junior title at R2 (now Rally4) and R5 (now Rally2) level. He also scored three overall podiums in 31 starts and once set the fastest time of all on the ultra-challenging Tronqueira stage of the Azores Rallye.

Of the moments that stand out, Griebel is quick to recall his trips to the mid-Atlantic Ocean archipelago. But there was one rally he’ll never forget after claiming his first ERC silverware there.  

“I have a lot of good memories sporting-wise but to travel to the Azores and see all the countryside and the nature, this was unforgettable as well,” Griebel said. “But for sure the best experience was the first Junior ERC title back in 2016 on the last round in Latvia.  

“I had crashed on Rally Liepāja twice before, so I had no good memories when I came there for the third time [in 2016]. But I had to win the race to win the Junior ERC championship. To just nail it against all those Baltic and Scandinavian guys was still maybe the best rally I ever did and some moments I will never forget. It was one of the most important days in my sporting career.”  

Griebel, who beat his ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team stablemate Chris Ingram to the crown, put his success that year down to: “Full dedication, 100 per cent commitment to the job I had to do and absolutely the will to achieve that big goal. And for sure the skills I developed in the two years before really helped me.”

He continued: “The ERC was really necessary for my career. Without the first Junior ERC title I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to step up to R5 machinery [as my prize].   

“For young talents it might be good to do one or two years in the national championship to learn the basics of the sport but if you want to have a steep learning curve, for sure it’s better to do international rallies and the ERC is still the best possible way. It’s more affordable and it still has a lot of variety and different surfaces and rallies so I can just advise young drivers they should go there as soon as possible.”

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