Štajf prepares to write latest chapter of diverse career with ERC return
Czech journalist and rally winner Vojtĕch Štajf will return to the FIA European Rally Championship in 2019 as part of a busy season behind the wheel for the Racing 21 driver and team boss.
Last year’s Middle East championship runner-up will split duties for Racing 21 between driving a ŠKODA Fabia R5 in the ERC from the season-opening Azores Rallye and campaigning a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 in his homeland. Compatriot Veronika Havelková has been recruited to co-drive.
“Becoming runner-up in this very tough and challenging Middle East championship for a European driver with no previous experience on these specific events was really special,” said the 45-year-old Štajf. “And now I think I am prepared for the challenge of using this experience in the superb FIA ERC with many fast drivers. After finishing second in ERC2 in 2015, I always wanted to be back in the ERC, so let’s do it.”
While Racing 21 will run Štajf’s Fabia R5 in the ERC, he and Havelková will compete under the ACCR Czech Team banner with support from their national federation, the Autoclub of the Czech Republic.
“We will be granted some support from the Czech ASN for this programme, as ACCR wants to combine the support not only for young talented drivers but also for an experienced ‘old dog’ like me. I am very happy for that because they have supported me since 2006 and I have had some good results for them. I appreciate the trust in my steady performance from our ASN.”
Of his targets for the ERC in 2019, Štajf said: “My great advantage is the experience with various events, regarding the system of my pacenotes, the set-up of the car, experience with the tyres and good knowledge of the Fabia in various conditions. In my team Racing 21 we have more R5 cars so I can have one Fabia just for my ERC programme. Therefore, my aim is to have the best prepared car and be the endurance type of driver in terms of collecting points from every event. Let’s see how many I can gather during the whole season.”
He continued: “Winning stages is great but I am more interested in the overall result in the whole season. I never know which season will turn out to be my last complete one. So, my attitude is primarily to enjoy the sport and have a good feeling about my driving.”
Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “Vojtĕch’s enthusiasm for the sport is unprecedented, while his vast experience will be a real advantage during a very competitive season. His approach is to be applauded, he’s proactive when it comes to attracting sponsors and partners, media coverage and fans – one of his YouTube videos has attracted 1.2 million views. As a former ERC2 frontrunner, we look forward to welcoming him back to the ERC for 2019.”
Five Vojtĕch Štajf facts
*A big rallying fan, Štajf began co-driving in 1995 before making his debut behind the wheel in 1998.
*Prior to the 2019 season, Štajf has 192 starts to his name as a driver – including the Shiraz International Rally in Iran and Rallye Monte-Carlo – plus 19 as a co-driver for a current total of 211.
*He has the honour of being the first non-factory driver to pilot a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 in competition following his outing on last December’s TipCars Pražský Rallysprint, which he could have won but for a mistake on the final stage when he was leading by 13.2s.
*When he’s not driving, Štajf – who studied journalism at university, has worked in TV and for ŠKODA Motorsport as press officer – runs a magazine publishing company.
*As well as co-driving on the first Dakar in South America, Štajf has twice contested the legendary La Carrera Panamericana road race in Mexico.
Photo: Michal Vitovec/Racing 21