ERC Ju­nior could take JWRC’S FIA sta­tus

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

Next year’s Euro­pean Rally Cham­pi­onship Ju­nior se­ries looks set to be­come the FIA’S pre­mier ju­nior ti­tle.

MN un­der­stands the cur­rent Ju­nior WRC will cease at the end of this sea­son –un­der­stand­ably given that the DS brand has now of­fi­cially left the World Rally Cham­pi­onship – and it could be re­placed with a tie-in with the ERC.

FIA rally di­rec­tor Jarmo Ma­ho­nen has long been search­ing for ways to en­hance ral­ly­ing’s pyra­mid with the re­gional se­ries feed­ing into the World Rally Cham­pi­onship. This, he feels, could be just such an op­por­tu­nity.

“It’s no se­cret we have had meet­ings with Eurosport (ERC pro­moter) and run­ning a [sin­gle] ju­nior se­ries with ERC is pos­si­ble,” Ma­ho­nen told MN. “Right now the Ju­nior WRC is too ex­pen­sive and the R2 cars are per­fect.”

Ma­ho­nen added that re­brand­ing the Drive DMACK Fi­esta Tro­phy is an­other al­ter­na­tive for next year – M-sport’s Fi­esta R2 was the car of choice for the Ju­nior WRC’S fore­run­ner, the WRC Academy be­fore the cur­rent car, the R2T turbo Fi­esta, ap­peared in 2015.

“The ju­nior se­ries are on the ta­ble for dis­cus­sion at the mo­ment,” Ma­ho­nen added. “The lad­der in the pyra­mid from ERC to WRC is there.”

ERC gen­eral co-or­di­na­tor JeanBap­tiste Ley said he felt ERC Ju­nior was per­fectly placed to be­come the FIA’S pre­ferred ti­tle.

Ley high­lighted the cur­rent ju­nior malaise, say­ing: “We have a con­stant and on-go­ing di­a­logue with the FIA about the over­all train­ing of young driv­ers from re­gional to WRC level, see­ing as ev­ery­one seems to reckon that the cur­rent sys­tem of ca­reer pro­gres­sion could be im­proved. In the last two years, 81 driv­ers have ap­peared in the three in­ter­na­tional ju­nior se­ries (Ju­nior WRC, DDFT and ERC Ju­nior) but only two driv­ers have made it all the way to fac­tory cars: Stephane Le­feb­vre [won ERC Ju­nior in 2014] and Eric Camilli [ninth in JWRC in 2014].

“Of the three se­ries, ERC Ju­nior is the strong­est and has the high­est pro­file, thanks to 19 reg­is­tered com­peti­tors, three man­u­fac­tur­ers, an un­ri­valled ded­i­cated tele­vi­sion pack­age and the newly launched ERC Ju­nior Ex­pe­ri­ence.”

ERC Ju­nior in the frame

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