Sat 04 May 2024

Joy time for Johansson with first Junior ERC win

Mille Johansson capitalised on some meticulous Rally Islas Canarias preparation work to bank his maiden victory in the Hankook-supplied FIA Junior ERC Championship.

Competing on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria for the first time and starting only his third event on Tarmac with his Opel Corsa Rally4, Johansson took the lead on SS4 after a cautious start. But he soon grew his advantage alongside co-driver Johan Gronwall to beat his fellow Swede Calle Carlberg for first place by 35.5sec courtesy of nine stage wins for the IKSport Racing team.


“We did some good preparation before the race and a lot of the speed was coming from that,” said the 19-year-old Johansson, who moves ahead of Max McRae in the provisional Junior ERC standings. “I have been to a Tarmac rally school and also we have done quite a lot of testing before coming here so it has been good.


“But we were just in a good rhythm, having a good flow when I’m driving. They were really nice stages, super-smooth Tarmac, almost like circuit racing, so I was just trying to enjoy."

Despite his dominance, there was a brief scare for Johansson when he swiped a roadside barrier on SS8. “The lead wasn’t that big and for sure anything could have happened so we needed to keep pushing,” Johansson said. “I hit the rails on the outside, it was quite a big drift in a fast-right corner. It was a bit more slippery than I thought.”


Carlberg’s first Junior ERC podium at his second attempt underlined his promise as team-mate Timo Schulz made it two ADAC Opel Rally Junior Team entries in the top three.


“We tried to drive in a good way, taking no risks with no moments at all,” Carlberg said. “Mille was pushing today but I didn’t dare on roads like this. One corner can be the difference between success and a DNF and I couldn’t afford to do a DNF again so we had to stay calm and let Mille do his thing. I know Timo is super-quick on Tarmac and we are faster than him so I’m very happy about that.”

Schulz, who like Carlberg also retired on the V-Híd Rally Hungary season opener, said: “Third is not really a good result, I expected something different. We were a little too soft on the car [set-up] all the weekend, just trying to be brave but I think that was not right.”


Round one winner Max McRae said he “drove with my head” to finish fourth, the 19-year-old pointing to his lack of Tarmac experience behind his decision to play safe in a Peugeot 208 Rally4 that didn’t always handle to his liking.


Daniel Polášek finished a strong fifth with Liam Müller sixth and Karl-Markus Sei seventh on his first Tarmac rally. Patrik Herczig overcame a fuel pump issue on SS10 to finish eighth.

Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy’s Aoife Raftery was ninth with Mattia Zanin restarting on leg two to finish 10th. The ACI Team Italia driver was fastest on Thursday evening’s super special stage but retired on SS2 when his Peugeot’s front-left driveshaft broke leaving the stage start.


Davide Pesavento was also back in action after a crash on SS6 but his rally ended with another off on SS10. His Delta Rally ACI Team Italia team-mate Geronimo Nerubutto retired after crashing out on SS5.

Jack Brennan rolled his Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy-entered Peugeot on SS2, while Aleksandar Tomov was excluded for a rule infringement.


The race to win the 2024 FIA Junior ERC Championship continues in Sweden next month with the second running of the gravel-based BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia from 13 - 15 June.

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