*Salzburg sensation gets Ford Fiesta R5 for European campaign
*Azores Airlines Rallye first up for ZM-Racing man
*Fellow Austrian Bernhard Ettel to co-drive
Having excelled at national level, Hermann Neubauer will take on some of Europe’s rallying elite when he contests the FIA European Rally Championship in 2018.
Austrian champion in 2016 and runner-up to Volkswagen Polo R World Rally Car driver Raimund Baumschlager last season, Neubauer will return to the ERC five years on from his last major foray in the championship when he took part in the 2WD division as a relative novice.
Now armed with considerably more experience and an all-new Ford Fiesta R5 built by M-Sport and prepared by ZM-Racing, Neubauer and co-driver Bernhard Ettel will get their European campaign underway on this month’s Azores Airlines Rallye.
“I am very fortunate that the sponsors I have inspired to support me in the past remain largely on board to allow me to take the next step in my career, namely promotion to the international stage at the top level,” said Austrian Neubauer, 28. “For that I am very, very grateful, because that is not a matter of course. And while putting this programme together has been exhausting, it is paying off.”
As well as the Azores Airlines Rallye from 22-24 March, Neubauer has also confirmed his participation on Rally Islas Canarias, which follows from 3-5 May and holds happy memories for Neubauer after he placed third in ERC 2WD in 2013. “My goal is to do as many ERC events as possible but, at the moment, I’m still in negotiations with other partners,” he explained.
While his full programme for 2018 is still being finalised, Neubauer can count on the support of Max Zellhofer’s ZM-Racing team. “That was very important to me,” he said. “Of course, you have to think about going to an international team for such a project. But Max and I have compared many offers and then found a way of how we can do it together. This is enormously important for me and Bernhard because the guys from ZM-Racing are simply the best team you can ask for to handle this great job, we can rely on them 100 per cent. A brand-new Ford Fiesta R5 from M-Sport is also already at ZM-Racing’s workshop. A big thank you to Richard Millener and the entire team at M-Sport for their great support and build of a sensational car. I cannot wait until the start of the ERC season in less than three weeks.”
Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “One of the key objectives of the ERC is to provide a platform for drivers who have excelled at national level to showcase their talents on an international stage. Hermann Neubauer has achieved considerable success in his homeland and will bring that experience and momentum to the ERC where he has a great opportunity to establish himself as a frontrunner.”
Supplied photo by: Daniel Fessl/RallyePics.at