Zlin ERC Junior speed surprises Franceschi
Jean-Baptiste Franceschi was surprised he was so fast on his Barum Czech Rally Zlín debut last week at the wheel of a M-Sport Poland-built Ford Fiesta R2T.
Franceschi, from France, set the fastest time in class on six of the 13 stages that the FIA ERC3 Junior Championship drivers tackled at full speed. He then thought he’d claimed the Pirelli-supported category win until evidence materialised that he’d been slowing with a technical issue on SS15 before its cancellation. As a result, his notional time was adjusted, and he fell to fourth, which was nevertheless a hugely impressive achievement against more experienced opposition.
“I was satisfied but surprised a little bit with my pace for my first time here,” said Franceschi. “We found a very good set-up, a good rhythm, especially in the second loop on Saturday. It was not easy to discover these roads and it was my first time [with this co-driver, Benoît Manzo].
“This rally is unique. There is nothing like it in any other rally. I discovered this during the recce and to be honest after the recce I was a little bit scared. Now I feel really confident and I know I learned a lot. I want to thank all the team at M-Sport for the job they did.”