Stengg’s five-step guide to adapting to gravel in the ERC
Roland Stengg marked his first gravel rally for a year with a season-best fourth in class on Latvia’s closing round of the 2018 FIA European Rally Championship.
Stengg belied his lack of experience on high-speed gravel events to claim a top-five finish in the Pirelli-supported ERC Junior Under 27 category on Rally Liepāja.
This is the Austrian Opel ADAM R2 driver’s five-step guide to adapting to gravel:
1: Commitment is key
“You really have to commit to the pacenotes in the fast corners. On leg one I was a bit too cautious and we were braking a bit with the left foot. Going flat out is part of the culture here and the [Nordic] guys are really fast so we had to keep it going and show some bravery.”
2: Beware of the ruts
“We had a bit of an off in SS2 and [on Saturday afternoon] it was really, really difficult with the ruts and it made it very hard for us to drive fast and on the limit. You have to really drive in the line and I’m not quite a clean driver yet on gravel. We had a big moment in the last part of the last stage [on Saturday] because I missed the line and we jumped out of the ruts. We were a bit too fast because we couldn’t brake any more and the car was just jumping.”
3: No such thing as an easy rally
“We had some close moments on the rally, it was really hard and tough but we learned a lot so it was good. I was a bit too cautious on the first two stages on Sunday and we lost some time.”
4: There can always be a late twist
“The final afternoon was really tough. We slowed down a bit because we knew we had no more battles. Then we saw cars out of the road and we knew we really had to get it to the finish. But the slower we drove the more mistakes we did.”
5: Be happy
“We had three or four lucky moments but we’re through, we’re happy and we’ve got so much more experience. It was a nice and fun rally.”