The battle for the ERC1 Junior crown on next week's Barum Czech Rally Zlín will be a straight fight between Chris Ingram and home hope Filip Mareš, while it’s a three-way fight in the Pirelli-supported ERC3 Junior Championship between Ken Torn, Efrén Llarena and Sindre Furuseth.
As well as the prestigious FIA title, the ERC1 Junior winner receives 100,000 euros to use for the final ERC rounds in Cyprus and Hungary this season. For the ERC3 Junior champion, two rounds of next year's ERC in an R5 car are the reward.
Drivers count their best four scores from a possible six. Clickhereto view the provisional standings and see below for what the quintet have had to say prior to Barum Czech Rally Zlín.
Chris Ingram (Great Britain, Toksport WRT), ERC1 Junior, first position (125 points) “The Barum Rally will be very important as it will decide the ERC1 Junior Championship. I am disappointed I have not been able to drive to my potential on the last rounds of the championship and have taken a step back to see what has happened. In Barum last year we had a strong pace at the end of the rally, setting times faster than rally legends like Kopecký, Lukyanuk and Sordo. I know what we have to do – I need to do my job to the best of my ability in every area. Winning the title would be huge and give us the chance to continue our fight for the overall title but I need to step up the game now.”
Filip Mareš (Czech Republic, ACCR Czech Rally Team), ERC1 Junior, second position (95 points) “First of all, I have to say we are glad that we even are in the title fight before the Barum, it underlines our good season so far. Now we are 100 per cent ready for the final round, to give everything into the fight for the title and try to make the season even better. Barum will be the highlight of the season in both the ERC and Czech championship. The fabulous stage Pindula is back on the itinerary, while other parts will be new for us. The competition will be very tough, and I am sure we will face many challenges during the rally. Our plan is to present ourselves with good speed, we want to be consistent in every stage and finish the rally with no big mistakes. I am sure, we are able to do it. From the beginning of the season, the motivation is really high as the budget for the last two ERC rounds is in the game. I trust, we can win the championship and I hope the Czech fans will help us to reach it!”
Ken Torn (Estonia, Estonian Autosport Junior Team), ERC3 Junior, first position (116 points) “For sure it’s a very big thing. At the beginning of the season I didn’t expect to be taking part in the ERC, but every round has gone well, and we have been getting better and better. Now for the final round it’s possible to take the [championship] win. The prize is a very good opportunity because for a young driver to find the budget to compete in an R5 car is not easy, but the champion will get two rallies in an R5 car, which is very good. When I’ve watched the videos of the stages, they are different to what we had in Roma. You see some gravel on the road so maybe it will be one of the hardest rallies I have done.”
Efrén Llarena (Spain, Rallye Team Spain), ERC3 Junior, second position (110 points) “My aim, obviously, it to win the rally and get the title. We know it's going to be really difficult because we depend on Ken Torn's result. Barum Czech Rally Zlín is always a big challenge for everybody. We have to attack and give the maximum of us from the beginning. Last year we were on the pace, we finished the first loop in third position, and we had planned to attack much more in the following stages, but, suddenly, we had to retire after a mechanical failure in our car. We could restart for the final leg, so we know all the route. It would be a dream to be ERC3 Junior champions, the best reward for the huge work made since last year by the Real Federación Española de Automovilismo(RFEDA) Rallye Team Spain project, the Mavisa Sport team, my co-driver Sara and me, and all the people behind us, supporting our programme.”
Sindre Furuseth (Norway, Saintéloc Junior Team), ERC3 Junior, third position (96 points) “Barum is a really special and difficult event, with always a lot of unpredictability and things happening. We will attack the weekend as we have done all this year, try to be fast, but stay out of trouble. It would mean a lot to win the title because it really helps on making the step permanently to R5 and provides two great opportunities in 2020. After our mistake in Rome the title looks rather difficult for us, but we will definitely try to do our part of the job and win the rally.”
ERC1 Junior title contenders photos by Martin Husár with thanks.