EXPERIENCE SEARCH: NORDGREN SET FOR ERC DEBUT
*ŠKODA Motorsport talent is EKO Acropolis Rally-bound
*Flying Finn to use Greek event to continue promising progression
*Nordgren: “ERC is a good platform for young drivers”
Juuso Nordgren is the latest young talent aiming to grow his experience of international competition by registering for the FIA European Rally Championship.
Finn Nordgren, 21, will contest this week’s EKO Acropolis Rally (31 May-1 June) in a ŠKODA Fabia R5.
The outing is part of his young driver development programme with the Czech manufacturer, which supports the emerging prospect on a private basis and allows him to contest selected international events, such as the Acropolis, one of the world’s toughest rallies.
“First of all, it is all about to learn and ŠKODA Motorsport gives me the chance to get more experience,” said Nordgren, who has started eight rallies in an R5 car to date. “I know this ERC event is really demanding and tough. Being aware there will be quick and experienced drivers, I will first of all focus on finishing the rally, an iconic rally.”
Nordgren, the Finnish federation’s Future Rally Star of Finland for 2016 – an award also won in the past by Jari Huttunen and Teemu Suninen – has tackled three world championship events under the ŠKODA Motorsport umbrella. The EKO Acropolis Rally marks his first ERC start.
“I am regularly following the ERC,” Nordgren continued. “It is a highly competitive championship, a good platform for young drivers. The promoter does a good job, which means for all drivers [it’s] a very good option to get more into the public awareness. The mixture of experienced drivers and young talents makes the ERC even more interesting.”
After Esapekka Lappi completed a hat-trick of ERC titles for ŠKODA in 2014, the make enjoyed three further winning seasons in the championship courtesy of event victories for drivers such as Nikolay Gryazin, Jan Kopecký, Freddy Loix, Bruno Magalhães and Ralfs Sirmacis. For 2018, ŠKODA’s German arm is backing Fabian Kreim’s ERC Junior Under 28 Championship bid. The double national champion scored his first outright podium on Rally Islas Canarias earlier this month.
“We are very pleased to welcome Juuso Nordgren to the ERC and we hope he is able to achieve his objective of building his experience on what is a very tough event against strong competition,” said ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley.
Nordgren tested his Wevers Sport Fabia R5 in Greece on Monday alongside co-driver and fellow Finn Tapio Suominen. The Lamia-based EKO Acropolis Rally starts in the Greek capital, Athens, on Friday 1 June and features 12 stages.