*Rally Team Spain opportunity provides chance of progression from national level
*Talented 22-year-old to contest ERC Junior U27 in Pirelli-equipped PEUGEOT 208 R2
*RFEDA among national federations chasing success in all-new ERC Nations’ Cup
New ERC Junior Under 27 recruit Efrén Llarena has spoken about how the support of the Rally Team Spain initiative has enabled him to take the step up from national to international level for this season’s FIA European Rally Championship.
Llarena won Spain’s Beca Júnior R2 title in 2017, which carried a funded drive in ERC Junior U27 this season as its top prize through the support of the Real Federación Española de Automovilismo (RFEDA).
“It is an honour and a dream come true,” said the 22-year-old Llarena. “We knew that for us it was a very difficult challenge, but we have achieved it and we have to be able to take advantage of this opportunity.
“All Spanish drivers have to be grateful to the Royal Spanish Automobile Federation for having inaugurated Rally Team Spain, a very interesting project. Now young people who compete in rallies have a direction to go in. Without this initiative, I could not make the leap to the ERC.”
Llarena, whose Mavisa Sport-run PEUGEOT 208 R2 will be co-driven by compatriot Sara Fernández, continued: “We started with the aim of trying to win our category. We know it’s going to be difficult, but we have to be very intelligent, know where to run and when to be more cautious depending on the terrain. We’re going to have to fight a lot to get it, but at least we’re going to try. “
Speaking at Rally Team Spain’s recent launch, Manuel Aviñó, President of Real Federación Española de Automovilismo, said: “Rally Team Spain is already a reality. The dream is fulfilled of being able to send young Spanish talents to continue growing in a first-level contest like the ERC, with its great media coverage thanks to the support of Eurosport. We cannot have better partners for this challenge, not only for Efrén and Sara, but also for PEUGEOT and all the companies that collaborate in the project.”
Jorge Tomé, who heads PEUGEOT in Spain and Portugal, said: “At PEUGEOT we have always believed that the values of ambition, sportsmanship and fighting spirit that motorsport represent are an important part of our brand identity, which we make a reality in our life. For us it’s a privilege, at this historic moment with the victory of Carlos Sainz and PEUGEOT in the Dakar, betting on an excellent driver, like Efrén Llarena, and an excellent co-driver, like Sara Fernández. We wish them the best in this new project.”
Along with ACCR (Czech Republic) and ADAC (Germany), RFEDA will be in contention for the new-for-2018 ERC Nations’ Cup. ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley said: “We are delighted Efrén Llarena is making the step up from national to international level with the support of the Spanish federation who should be applauded for helping young talents through the Rally Team Spain initiative.”