Sun 12 May 2024

Carlberg turns to Richard Burns Rally for ERC training

Calle Carlberg has revealed how time spent playing the Richard Burns Rally game helped him to his maiden FIA Junior ERC Championship podium on Rally Islas Canarias last week.

Carlberg finished second to fellow Swede Mille Johansson in the Hankook-supplied category, beating his ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team colleague Timo Schulz in the process.  

“On Rally Islas Canarias, SS2 and 5, Agüimes - Santa Lucia, was one of the stages that is also in the game, at least the first nine kilometres of the stage,” Carlberg, 23, said. “I practiced a lot on this stage to get into the right rhythm and find the right set-up. Of course, there are differences from the game to real life, but it’s a really good platform to get an idea of how you will drive in real life.  

“It was a shame I had to wait at the start line on both runs because of accidents in front. We had to start both stages with cold tyres and could not show what time we could do.

“Even if the game Richard Burns Rally is soon 20 years old it's still my go-to rally simulator. The game continues to be updated through a Hungarian simulator community called and these guys are adding cars, stages and monthly updates to the game, making it for me by far the best rally simulator out there. I know that Nikolay Gryazin is also playing the game and has spoken about the famous Barum Czech Rally Zlín stage, Semetín, which is very similar in the game to real life.  

“I spend a lot of time in my SimraceSweden simulator trying to improve. Mostly trying to find drivers that are on the same level or above to learn from. I remember two or three weeks ago I did a rally on some French stages and saw the name Jaspar Vaher. Then it got real serious and I had to focus to beat him.”

First Junior ERC podium at second time of asking
Having graduated to the Junior ERC as his prize for winning last season’s ADAC Opel Electric Rally Cup, Calle Carlberg could have forgiven for taking his time to finish on the podium.  

But after coming close to a debut podium on last month’s V-Híd Rally Hungary, Carlberg finished runner-up to Mille Johansson on Rally Islas Canarias, which he was contesting for the first time alongside co-driver Jørgen Eriksen.  

Carlberg explained: “Our plan has been to slowly get into the car on the first gravel and Tarmac events, then to start pushing for wins. We followed our plan almost to perfection in Hungary giving away stage wins for a safe run, but we were unlucky laying in a safe second place and then having to retire.

“Arriving to Gran Canaria we didn't expect much. History tells us that Swedish drivers really struggle on those roads, but already at the test our feeling with the Corsa Rally 4 was quite good. I also prepared as much as possible with practicing pacenote writing on similar roads, or at least as similar as you can find in Sweden… I had a long talk with Tom Kristensson and previous Junior ERC driver Nick Loof about driving style, challenges and other information that could prepare me for the rally.  

“We had a rally without any big mistakes or moments. Everything was super-safe and within our limit. It's difficult to fully trust the pacenotes with so many blind corners and the grip changing on different surfaces. I was a bit surprised with our pace to be honest. The Corsa Rally 4 is so different from the electric Corsa-e Rallye that I have learned Tarmac driving in.”   

Carlberg added: “It’s been an okay start to the season, but now I need to start exploring the limits. I am not fully happy about our pace at the start of the season. We still lack that last speed to challenge for the wins. Mille Johansson has proven he is a really fast driver and if I want to beat him I need to start pushing. I have always been a safe driver that usually doesn't take any risks, but this is the ERC. Here you need to risk a bit if you want to win.”  

Carlberg’s home event, BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia, is up next 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