*Austrian chooses ERC Junior Under 27 to gain international experience
*Debut scheduled for this week’s Barum Czech Rally Zlín
*Young driver training category secures registration number 24
Julian Wagner will follow in the wheel tracks of his older brother Simon when he steps up from national to international level by contesting the FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship.
Austrian Wagner has enjoyed considerable success in his homeland and makes his ERC Junior U27 debut on Barum Czech Rally Zlín this week following an impressive victory as a guest driver on the Rallye Deutschland round of the ADAC Opel Rallye Cup last weekend.
The 22-year-old explained his decision to enter ERC Junior U27: “When I started rallying my biggest dream was to drive in the European or world championship. In the last two years I learned a lot in the Austrian championship but now it is time to develop my experience. The best way to do this is to participate in the ERC and see how close we can come to the European elite.”
Wagner is enjoying a strong 2017 season having secured the Austrian Junior title with two events remaining. He’s still in contention for the Austrian 2WD crown and is on course to win the Austrian Opel Rallye Cup. With regular co-driver Anne Katharina Stein committed to Catie Munnings on Barum Czech Rally Zlín, Wagner has recruited his experienced compatriot and previous navigator Jürgen Heigl to co-drive on this week’s asphalt showpiece when he switches to a Peugeot 208 R2.
“My target for the Barum Rally is to get confident with the car as fast as possible,” said Wagner, who lists Colin McRae as his inspiration. “I never drove the Peugeot 208 R2 before, it’s my second international event so it is important to look how fast we can go on the bumpy Czech roads, which are also new for me.”
Of his relationship with brother Simon, who will be at the wheel of another Peugeot 208 R2 in Zlín, Wagner said: “Because he already knows the car, the team, the Pirelli tyres and also the stages from last year’s Barum Rally we don’t want to compare ourselves at the beginning but at the end of the rally maybe we can go the same speed as Simon although it is important for me to feel well in the car and do as much kilometres as possible without making a mistake. We learn from our mistakes and he can give me a lot of information about the Peugeot for finding the basic set-up and the tricky roads in Zlín.”
ERC Junior U27 is for drivers born on or after 1 January 1990 competing in R2 cars on Pirelli tyres. Competitors count their best four scores from a possible six with the eventual champion receiving 100,000 euros to use for an ERC Junior U28 campaign in 2018 when they will step up to R5 machinery. Stéphane Lefebvre, Emil Bergkvist and Marijan Griebel are among the notable ERC Junior graduates.