Mon 27 Nov 2023

Triple champions vie to be in Pole position for ERC Greatest Driver vote

Polish heroes past and present will face a crucial public vote today when the first ERC Greatest Driver semi-final takes place.

Kajetan Kajetanowicz, the only driver in FIA European Rally Championship history to win the ERC title three years in succession, is going head-to-head with compatriot and fellow three-time champion Sobiesław Zasada for a place in the grand final on Thursday.


Having defeated Jan Kopeckýin the round of 16 voting, Kajetanowicz knocked out Luca Rossetti in a quarter-final of triple ERC champions.


Zasada, who is still competing aged 93, edged out Antonio Zanini in the first round of voting before eliminating Patrick Snijers at the quarter-final stage.


Kajetanowiz or Zasada will face the winner of the second semi-final, an all-Italian battle between Giandomenico Basso and Fabrizio Tabaton.

Semi-final 1 contenders in short: Kajetanowicz versus Zasada


Three-in-a-row from the Polish prince who became King Kajto

While three drivers have won the ERC title three times, only Kajetan Kajetanowicz has achieved the feat consecutively, the Pole locking out the silverware between 2015-2017. ‘Kajto’ emerged as a contender when he scored the first win for an R5 car in the ERC after battling the elements to triumph on Rally Poland in 2013. He celebrated his maiden ERC crown in the Acropolis Rally service park as the event winner after heavy rain prevented the 2015 edition from running its course. He took a second Acropolis victory in 2017, one of seven notched up from 39 ERC starts. He’s since gone on to star in WRC2 and became the inaugural FIA WRC2 Challenger champion on Forum8 Rally Japan earlier this month.

ERC’s first triple title winner demonstrated great versatility

So significant was Sobiesław Zasada’s capture of his second ERC title in 1967 – one year after his first – that it earned him the Polish Sports Personality of the Year prize that year. Motorcycle competition actually provided his first motorsport fix until he took up four-wheel competition in 1951, initially as a circuit racer. Zasada, whose third ERC crown came in 1971, would go on to develop his vastly successful Zasada Group business empire, which has interests in property, manufacturing and motoring, amongst others. In 2021, Zasada became the oldest driver to contest a round of the WRC when he entered Safari Rally Kenya aged 91.


As part of the FIA European Rally Championship’s 70th-anniversary celebrations, 16 drivers were originally selected for the ERC Greatest Driver vote with taking a data-based approach to pick out 12 drivers who have won the coveted European Rally Championship at least two times. Four wildcards, based on their impact during a certain ERC era, were also selected. The ERC Greatest Driver, according to your votes, will be revealed on 1 December.

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