Wed 27 Dec 2023

How Junior ERC was won in 2023

The Hankook-supported FIA Junior ERC Championship went down to the wire on Rally Hungary in October. Three drivers started the title decider in contention for the coveted crown and the FIA Junior WRC Championship prize drive for 2024, but it was Norbert Maior who came out on top.

The champion: Norbert Maior
Co-driven by sister Francesca, Norbert Maior’s climb to the Junior ERC title summit weighted heavily on consistency aboard his HRT Racing Peugeot 208 Rally4. The Romanian made the most of his Junior ERC experience to take four podiums in a row, having relied on a crowdfunding campaign at one stage. But he saved his best to last by claiming victory on the winner-takes-all Rally Hungary finale. He can now look forward to a Junior WRC campaign in 2024 as his reward.



The runner-up: Roberto Daprà
The ACI Team Italia-supported Daprà essentially lost out on the Junior ERC title by 7.1sec having built on the potential he demonstrated in 2022. His breakthrough victory on Rally di Roma Capitale was not only impressive but also miraculous after he hit back from a huge testing accident. Although he ended his campaign with two podium visits, it wasn’t quite enough to prevent Maior from becoming champion.



The next best: Ola Nore
Norwegian Nore began the 2023 Junior ERC season in style with back-to-back victories on the fast-paced gravel rounds, ORLEN 79th Rally Poland and Tet Rally Liepāja. But he couldn’t replicate that form on BAHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia and was then forced to miss Barum Czech Rally Zlín due to a lack of funds. He returned for the Rally Hungary finale, having swapped his Renault Clio Rally4 – the car he used for his early-season wins – for an Opel Corsa Rally4, but his title hopes were wrecked by early tyre damage.



The other winners: Isak Reiersen and Timo Schulz
Driving a Ford Fiesta Rally4, Swede Isak Reiersen (below) impressed by getting the better of compatriot Patrik Hallberg to claim Junior ERC honours on BAHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia and end Ola Nore’s victory run in the process. Timo Schulz then delivered a Tarmac-driving masterclass on Barum Czech Rally Zlín with victory for the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team.



The leading rookies: Timo Schulz and Mattia Zanin
Having graduated to Junior ERC as his prize for winning the ADAC Opel e-Rally Cup in 2022, German driver Timo Schulz (below) got into his stride once the season switched to Tarmac by finishing second on Rally di Roma Capitale. He placed fourth in the final table, two places ahead of ACI Team Italia-supported Mattia Zanin, who progressed and showed promise throughout his maiden international campaign.



The top teens: Mille Johansson and Max McRae
Mille Johanssow (below), 18, and Max McRae, who turned 19 in June, were actually first and second fastest on the opening stage of the season in Poland. While they didn’t end the year in the leading positions, they learned plenty and demonstrated significant potential for the future.



The other strong performers
Swedish privateer Victor Hansen (below) underlined his speed with two podium finishes. Leading female driver Aoife Raftery was a regular points scorer for the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy, while Fabian Zeiringer brushed aside a tough start to the season to finish a strong second on Barum Czech Rally Zlín. Slovenian Mark Škulj joined the Junior ERC ranks on Rally di Roma Capitale and completed his campaign with third place on Rally Hungary. Other drivers to score points in 2023 included Swede Simon AnderssonMiko Jalava from Finland, Austrian Alfred Kramer, Germany’s René Noller, Mexico’s Patrice Spitalier and Estonian Mark-Egert Tiits. Hungary’s Patrik Herczig contested the opening and closing rounds and took fourth place on his home event.

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