Fri 15 Mar 2024

ERC Take Five with Calle Carlberg

Calle Carlberg is a man on a mission in this season’s FIA European Rally Championship. The 23-year-old from Jönköping in Sweden is about to embark on his maiden Junior ERC campaign as his prize for winning the ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup Powered by GSE in 2023.

Given the enormity of the opportunity, Carlberg is determined not to blow his big chance when V Rally Hungary opens the season from 12 - 14 April.  

But as well as learning his Hankook-equipped Opel Corsa Rally4 and six all-new events, Carlberg will have a new co-driver for 2024 in the shape of Norwegian Jørgen Eriksen (pictured above left with Carlberg). It follows his father, Torbjörn, deciding to step down to focus on his day job, having expertly guided his son’s career to date.   

As a newcomer to the ERC for 2024 what’s the story of your career so far?
“It’s been quite a long journey and started when I was 15 in 2015. I started in Folkrace, a cheap form of rallycross in Sweden. I did that for one year and went into rallying when I was 16 with an old Audi 80 the cost 2000 euros. Then I moved to a Volvo 940, a rear-wheel drive, which is the car you need to drive if you are a Swede! But my real rallying career started in 2021 when I did my debut in the Swedish championship with a Rally4 Fiesta. I was able to win both the senior and junior two-wheel-drive championships. That’s when all the dreams and plans started to form. Everyone has to dream but it was when I realised if I work hard enough it’s actually possible to do something. This is when I decided this is what I wanted to do for my future.”

A move to the Germany-based ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup Powered by GSE followed for 2022 and a chance to compete in a championship won by other Swedish drivers in the past. Did that convince you to make the switch?
“There was a big question mark after the Swedish championship. I wanted to go out into Europe, but I also had some offers to drive in the Swedish championship. I had a meeting with some of the guys from ADAC and Opel and they sold the dream to me and I thought this was the right option. Tom Kristensson won the title in 2017 and he’s like a mentor to me. We spoke a lot and he recommended it. But it’s not only in Germany, half of the events are outside Germany.”  

Competing in the ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup Powered by GSE gave you the opportunity to learn Tarmac, how did you find the transition from gravel?
“That was also one of the reasons why I chose the Opel Cup because I had never driven on Tarmac before. The goal of mine had always been to go to the ERC and I thought I cannot go without being prepared and learning Tarmac. In the first season I was competing against drivers who had been born on Tarmac so I was a big challenge. But I really like the surface and for the last two years I’ve really learned how to push on Tarmac. That’s why I feel very prepared now.”  

BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia, a new ERC event for 2023, gives you the opportunity to compete in Sweden again. How exciting is that prospect?
“Karlstad is 300 kilometres from my home so quite far but, until I was 15, I was not that much into motorsport. The only thing I really had was every year, since I was six, we went to Rally Sweden in Karlstad in the winter and my interest started on the Vargåsen stage and Colin’s Crest. I was a spectator on BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia last year, I wanted to drive but it was not possible. I was standing on Colin’s Crest thinking in the summer we could show Europe how amazingly nice are the roads we have in Sweden. It will be the highlight of the year for me to go over Colin’s Crest in the ERC having stood there as a six-year-old.”

And speaking of opportunities, how important is this season for you and what’s your target?
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I want to take that opportunity. The support from Opel is amazing and Manfred Stohl, who runs the team, is one of the most experienced guys in all of rallying. My objective is very clear, the only objective I have is to win the championship, that’s what I’m looking at. When I go to the first round of course it will be a learning experience, learning a new car and new rallies. But we have to do as good a job as we can to make sure we bring home the points that makes us still in the fight for the championship. We take it stage by stage, rally by rally but the championship is the goal.”  

Drivers planning to contest the 2024 Junior ERC Championship, which begins with V Rally Hungary from 12 - 14 April, must be younger than 27 on 1 January, compete in a Rally4 or Rally5 category car, register for the FIA ERC4 Championship, and also complete the WRC Promoter GmbH Junior Driver Agreement, which is available here:

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