Mon 22 Apr 2024

ERC star Sesks handed Rally1 chance in WRC

Mārtiņš Sesks will transfer his considerable talent from the FIA European Rally Championship to the FIA World Rally Championship when he steps up to Rally1 level on the WRC rounds in Poland and his native Latvia this summer.

The 24-year-old three-time ERC event winner and former Junior ERC champion will contest the high-speed gravel events in an M-Sport Ford World Rally Team-run Puma Rally1. His compatriot Renārs Francis will co-drive.  

Notably, Sesks’ appearance on 80th ORLEN Rally Poland in June will make him the first driver to compete in a Rally1 car in the WRC without the use of hybrid technology under new regulations for the 2024 season.  

These allow Rally1 cars to compete on WRC events with equivalent ballast weight in lieu of the plug-in hybrid system as part of ongoing efforts to help drivers take the step from Rally2 to Rally1 machinery.   

Increasing the accessibility of the sport’s top-flight aligns with the shared goals of M-Sport and WRC Promoter to support future rally talent, giving opportunities drivers like Sesks to prove themselves among the sport’s elite.

Following his appearance on Rally Poland, an event he won last season when it formed part of the ERC, Sesks will look to build on the experience he gains on the Mikołajki-based event by stepping up to a full hybrid-powered Puma Rally1 on Tet Rally Latvia. The long-standing ERC event which becomes part of the WRC for the first time this July.   

Sesks said: “I am sincerely grateful, as it is a dream come true to join forces with the M-Sport World Rally Team and WRC Promoter for this remarkable opportunity to advance from Rally2 to Rally1 level. I must admit, it takes saying it twice to fully believe that we will soon be competing alongside the world's most elite drivers with Rally1 machinery.  

“The journey to this point has been a massive effort of many people, particularly my family, whose rallying legacy dates back to my grandfather's inaugural event in Liepāja in 1965. Now, 59 years later, I have the opportunity to participate in the same rally but as a WRC event.   

“While adapting to Rally1 machinery will undoubtedly demand our unwavering focus and commitment, we are fully prepared to give it our all. Being entrusted with piloting the first non-hybrid appearance of the Puma Rally1 makes it more exciting for us to see what the future brings.” 

“Mārtiņš performances in the past two seasons of the ERC have deemed him a worthy recipient of this support. He has demonstrated a winning edge in Latvia and Poland and we believe that with time, he will become a regular face in the WRC.”  

ORLEN 80th Rally Poland takes place from 27 - 30 June, with Tet Rally Latvia following from 18 - 21 July. Before then, however, Sesks will continue his bid for ERC glory with Team MRF Tyres when he contests Rally Islas Canarias from 2 - 4 May followed by BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia (13 - 15 June).  

Photos: Raivo Perševics / Robyworks

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