Fri 05 Jul 2024

Future-focused Franceschi ready to resume ERC title pursuit

Mathieu Franceshi insists his event-ending crash on BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia is behind him as he focuses on trying to reclaim the outright lead of the 2024 FIA European Rally Championship.

Frenchman Franceschi’s Power Stage exit in Sweden from a possible third place last month allowed defending champion Hayden Paddon to draw level on 56 points after three rounds.  

With two podium finishes compared to Paddon’s sole top-three placing, Franceschi is still at the top of the title table, but he’s targeting more progress on Delfi Rally Estonia, which runs from today (Friday) until Sunday.

“For sure [the crash] it’s forgotten now, it was my mistake, I learn about it, now we just see about the future and not about the past,” the Michelin-equipped Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 driver said.  

“We have to continue because we are in a really nice situation, the start of the season was really nice, okay it was mistake in Sweden but everybody can do it and now we just focus on this weekend and to try to be on the same level like in Hungary and Canarias.”

Paddon targets more ERC points as title chase intensifies
Hayden Paddon, who drives a BRC Racing Team-run Hyundai i20 N Rally2 on Pirelli tyres, has more FIA European Rally Championship points in mind following his first podium finish of the season in Sweden.  

The New Zealander said: “We would love to be competing for a win again in Estonia. As with every ERC round so far this year, there will be a lot of fast drivers including local drivers who know the road conditions well. However, championship wise, our focus is firmly on staying ahead of Mathieu Franceschi, but this is no easy feat as he is driving very well this year.   

While Franceschi is a Delfi Rally Estonia rookie, Paddon finished second overall on the event in 2018.

“The key differences to Sweden are that the road surface is softer, so it cuts up on the second pass a lot more, and many jumps. It’s a high-commitment rally, maybe even more so than Sweden as the room for margin is greater. We want to enjoy this last gravel rally of the European season as much as possible and make the most of scoring as many points on our favoured surface as we can.”  

BRC Racing Team Principal Gabriele Rizzo said: “We feel we have collected fewer points than we deserved so far this season. Already two times this year in the gravel Power Stages, we lost time that effected the points earned from the Power Stage and the event overall. Compare this to last year on gravel we were the best Power Stage point scorer of the season, thus the first target of the weekend ahead in Estonia is to reverse this trend.   

“We have worked very hard in recent weeks looking at every small detail to be prepared for this event. I believe the commitment of the team and of Hayden and John [Kennard] is higher than ever. Further motivation comes from looking at WRC Poland results, where ERC drivers were performing pretty well on different classes which shows that the level of competition in ERC is very high, and we are working hard to secure the championship again.”

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