ERC Junior could take JWRC’S FIA status
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