Sat 11 May 2024

ERC3 champion Armstrong comes of age in Rally2 Fiesta

Jon Armstrong’s run to seventh place on Rally Islas Canarias last weekend was the Irishman’s best performance so far at Rally2 level.

That’s according to the M-Sport run driver who has graduated to the FIA European Rally Championship’s top tier for 2024 after winning the Rally3-based ERC3 title last season.   

Armstrong, 29, clocked several top-five stage times as he rose from 16th following the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria super special stage on leg one.   

After holding fifth at one point, the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy eventually finished in between FIA World Rally Championship event winners Hayden Paddon and Mads Østberg, who placed sixth and eighth respectively.  

“I would say it’s my best performance so far,” Armstrong said afterwards. “It’s been a while, 2017, since I drove this grade of car on Tarmac. Even though I was able to win a stage on Rallye Deutschland that year it wasn’t a very consistent performance, whereas I would say this was my most consistent performance, pace-wise, in one of these cars. I think this highlights my development over the last few years and driving the Rally3 car to feel comfortable with four-wheel drive on Tarmac and gravel as well, and to be in a good rhythm.”

Armstrong could have finished higher up the order on Rally Islas Canarias had it not been for an intercom issue slowing him down on the final morning. But his eventual result represented a strong performance alongside co-driver Eoin Treacy.  

“On the rally it was just about trying to have a good pace without taking any big risks and get used to the speed you can carry in these cars on the fast places,” Armstrong said. “For sure it was one of my best results but it’s part of our role to try to promote the Fiesta. Obviously I am still learning but I have to try to be towards the front as well and it was good we were taking a step in that direction. There’s more events to come this year so hopefully we can keep making the right moves forward and get closer to not just the top-five times, but the top-three times and that front-running pace.”

Asked what it meant to be running in the top five aboard his Pirelli-equipped Ford Fiesta Rally2, Armstrong said: “It was really nice to be honest. The level of drivers competing on Rally Islas Canarias was so high and the fact we were able to be ahead of some really quick drivers on Friday especially, even some of the Spanish drivers, was great. Unfortunately for me they got faster on Saturday but it definitely gives you a boost of confidence that you’re able to compete at that level and that’s really important. Thankfully my rhythm was quite good and we were able to have some good stage times and seventh is really nice in between Østberg and Paddon, they’ve both won events in WRC and ERC and it’s really cool. Now we just have to try to build upon that.”  

Armstrong will be back on ERC duty when BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia takes place 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