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*Portuguese steps up to top-of-the-range R5 car
*Six-event ERC bid begins on Azores Airlines Rallye
*ARC Sport on hand to help guide ambitious driver

Aloísio Monteiro hopes stepping up to the FIA European Rally Championship’s headlining ERC1 class in 2018 can make him an even better driver, while giving his sponsors a greater return on their investment.

Monteiro is targeting a six-event ERC campaign following a successful season in the Iberia section of the European Clio R3T Trophy, when he finished runner-up to Spaniard Fran Cima Artime.

He will continue his partnership with ARC Sport, which guided his fellow Portuguese Bruno Magalhães to the runner-up spot in the overall ERC standings last year and also oversaw Emma Falcón’s ERC Ladies’ Trophy campaign.

“The progress and evolution that we have seen from the Portuguese drivers who join the ERC is incredible and the recent successes of Diogo Gago and Bruno Magalhães is proof of this,” Monteiro said. “This learning fascinates me and my goal is always to improve as a rally driver.”

Welcoming Monteiro to the championship, ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley said: “Having proved himself in one-make rallying, it’s great that Aloísio is stepping up to a higher level. But he does so with the support of a very strong team around him in ARC Sport. And by targeting a six-event campaign he’ll gain plenty of experience while avoiding putting too much pressure on himself.”

André Couceiro, Portuguese RC5 class champion navigator in 2017, will co-drive Monteiro while the identity of their car will be announced in due course.

In addition to the Azores Airlines Rallye, which takes place from 22-24 March, and Rally Islas Canarias, which follows from 3-5 May, Monteiro is planning to contest four more ERC rallies although his precise schedule is currently unconfirmed. He took part on both island events last year.

All rounds of the 2018 ERC will enjoy significant coverage on Eurosport plus other networks in Europe and around the world.