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Fri 12 Apr 2024

ACI Team Italia’s triple attack underlines huge interest in Junior ERC

The 2024 FIA Junior ERC Championship kicks off in Hungary today (Friday) with a 17-car entry full of young talents aiming for the top of the sport.

Among the Hankook-equipped line-up are three drivers from Italy all looking to gain experience at international level – and stake their claim for a share of the points and prizes on offer during the six-round season.

 

Second-year contender Mattia Zanin, 22, heads the Italian federation-backed ACI Team Italia glory bid aboard a Peugeot 208 Rally4, now run by the famous MS Munaretto outfit. He impressed towards the end of the 2023 campaign and will be one to watch this year.

 

“To repeat the championship we are rally happy and I want to say thanks to all our partners and ACI Team Italia, which also helps us this year,” said Zanin, who finished four positions behind his former team-mate and championship runner-up Roberto Daprà in the 2023 Junior ERC standings. “The other competitors are so fast, particularly on gravel, which is not my favourite surface, so my strategy, to take the best position in the championship we can, is to take points on gravel and try to take a podium in the Tarmac races.”

Geronimo Nerobutto and Davide Pesavento, the 2023 Italian Junior champion, will join Zanin in competing under the ACI Team Italia banner. Zanin reckons both Junior ERC newcomers have plenty of potential.

 

“They are two good guys, in particular Pesavento, who won last year the Italian Junior championship, the championship I have done two years ago,” Zanin said. “He’s fast but he needs to improve because the first year in the ERC is so difficult for all. And Geronimo is also a good driver but also needs more experience. In the end I don’t know what they can do but I hope they will do a good season but behind me, obviously!”

Herczig’s hopes are high at home in Junior ERC

Patrik Herczig, 21, is flying the Hungarian flag in Junior ERC this season and is aiming high with HRT Racing, the team that guided Norbert Maior to the title in 2023.

 

“It will be the first time we’ve done the full season so our main target is to finish all six rounds,” Herczig said. “But we would like to have some good results during the year, especially in Hungary. I would like a podium position in Hungary but I think it will be really, really hard because there will be some really fast drivers.”

 

Herczig has tackled selected rallies in and around Vezsprém, V-Híd Rally Hungary’s new-for-2024 host city, including last December’s Mikulás Rallye. He also took a class win on the Vezsprém Rallye the previous August. “I did two rallies there but there will be new stages for the ERC and they will also be new for me,” he said.

 

Rookies ready for Junior ERC action

As well as Geronimo Nerobutto and Davide Pesavento, Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy’s Jack Brennan, ADAC Opel Rally Junior Team’s Swede Calle Carlberg, Finn Leevi Lassila, Liam Müller from Germany representing Schmack Motorsport and HRT Racing’s Bulgarian hopeful Aleksandar Tomov are all new to Junior ERC for 2024. However, Patrik Herczig, Mille Johansson, Alfed Kremer, Max McRae, Daniel Polášek, Aoife Raftery, Timo Schulz, Karl-Markus Sei, Jaspar Vaher and Mattia Zanin all have previous Junior ERC experience to count on.

 

Junior ERC, now in its 11th season, is for Rally4, Rally5 and Rally5-kit cars running on Hankook tyres, the championship’s official tyre partner. An FIA Junior WRC prize drive is up for grabs in 2025 for the eventual champion.

 

Junior ERC tyre rules explained

All Junior ERC crews are restricted to 12 tyres for the entire V-Híd Rally Hungary provided by Hankook, the official supplier. The Hankook R211 gravel tyre, the same specification as in 2023, is available in hard and soft compounds. But with high ambient and ground temperatures expected throughout the weekend, only the hard-compound tyre will be used with crews expected to carry two spare tyres for each loop of stages due to the rough nature of the stage surface.

 

How to watch?

Fans across the globe can experience the excitement and drama of the ERC with every stage of every rally broadcast Rally.tv platform. In addition, the ERC is broadcast in a number of countries around the world and fans are advised to check local listings for details.

 

V-Híd Rally Hungary 2024: the key numbers

Stages: 13

Competitive distance: 192.43 kilometres

Total distance: 794.74 kilometres