Ken Torn has made history as the first driver to confirm his participation in the new-for-2021 FIA ERC Junior Championship, which specifies the use of Pirelli-equipped Rally3 cars.
Torn was entitled to two ERC outings in 2021 in a Rally2 car as his prize for winning the FIA ERC3 Junior Championship in 2020. Instead, he will take advantage of an offer to contest all six ERC Junior rounds in a four-wheel-drive Ford Fiesta Rally3 developed by M-Sport Poland after his reward from ERC promoter Eurosport Events, supported by tyre company Pirelli, was converted to cover the full ERC Junior season with additional support from M-Sport Poland.
The prize conversion was possible due to the more accessible cost of competing in the new Rally3 category, which motorsport’s world governing body, the FIA, has developed as an affordable entry level for drivers aiming to build their experience in four-wheel-drive machinery at regional level. The price of a competition-ready Rally3 car has been capped at €100,000.
Paving the way for future talents
By graduating to the Rally3-based FIA ERC Junior Championship, Ken Torn is treading the path that the 2021 ERC3 Junior champion will follow after confirmation from Eurosport Events that the eventual title winner will receive an ERC Junior prize drive in a Ford Fiesta Rally3 run on Pirelli tyres in 2022.
Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “The common decision the FIA and Eurosport Events took in 2017 to develop ERC Junior into a two-tier category based on driver age and experience was done to provide a logical ladder of progression from two- to four-wheel drive for drivers stepping up from national to international competition. With the top tier of ERC Junior for Rally3 rather than Rally2 cars, that opportunity not only remains but is also strengthened due to the lower purchase price and running costs of Rally3 cars compared to Rally2 cars. Ken Torn proved his talent in Rally4 machinery and now gets the chance to do the same in the exciting new Rally3 class.”
Torn, 27, said: “This is a great opportunity for me to step up to four-wheel drive, which is what all young rally drivers want to do. The initial prize from Eurosport Events in a Rally2 car was incredible but I need to compete on as many events as possible to increase my experience as I adapt to four-wheel drive. Unfortunately, I don’t have the budget I need to do more events at Rally2 level, which makes the chance to compete on six rounds of a very competitive championship in the new-generation Rally3 category one I could not turn down. I’m very excited for the new season and I can’t thank Eurosport Events, Pirelli and, of course, M-Sport Poland enough.”
Torn a worthy recipient of expanded prize-drive opportunity
Estonian ace Ken Torn steps up from two- to four-wheel-drive machinery on the back of winning the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC3 and ERC3 Junior categories in 2020 driving a Pirelli-equipped Ford Fiesta Rally4 developed and run by M-Sport Poland. Kauri Pannas, who co-drove Torn last season, will continue to partner his compatriot after they won their class on four of the five ERC rounds in 2020 competing under the Estonian Autosport Junior Team banner.
Maciej Woda, Director, M-Sport Poland, has followed Torn’s progress closely in recent seasons and has high hopes for the reigning ERC3/ERC3 Junior champion and his co-driver Pannas: “Ken and Kauri went from strength to strength on every ERC rally last season and really put the Fiesta Rally4 through its paces, adding more weight to the claim the Fiesta Rally4 is the car to have for any driver looking to win in their national or regional Rally4 championship. With Kauri by his side, we have every faith in Ken that he will be able to adapt to the Fiesta Rally3 with ease and continue to prove his talent in the extremely competitive European championship environment, while also showcasing M-Sport Poland’s new-generation rally car.”
Terenzio Testoni, Rally Manager, Pirelli, said: “We are very pleased that Ken Torn is the first recipient of this prestigious ERC prize drive in a Rally3 car, which further underlines our commitment to rallying at every level, and our determination to help promising youngsters make the most of every hard-won opportunity."
FIA ERC Junior Championship 2021 calendar
Round 1: Rally Islas Canarias (Asphalt), May 6-8, 2021
Round 2: 77th Rally Poland (Gravel), June 18-20, 2021
Round 3: Rally Liepāja (Latvia, gravel), July 1-3, 2021
Round 4: Rally di Roma Capitale (Italy, asphalt), July 23-25, 2021
Round 5: 50th Barum Czech Rally Zlín (Asphalt), August 27-29, 2021
Round 6: Rally Hungary (Asphalt), October 22-24, 2021