*Gryazin set for full ERC Junior U28 campaign as Jeets plans selected events
*Sirmacis in funding search to increase current programme in third ŠKODA Fabia R5
*SRT in contention for revamped FIA European Rally Championship for Teams
Top Latvian team Sports Racing Technologies (SRT) will enter three ŠKODA Fabia R5s in this year’s FIA European Rally Championship. After guiding Ralfs Sirmacis to outright wins on the Acropolis, Estonia and Liepāja rallies last season, SRT has confirmed that the rising Latvian star will again form part of its impressive line-up along with existing team-mates Nikolay Gryazin and Raul Jeets.
Gryazin took part on seven ERC rounds in 2016 in an SRT-run Peugeot 208 R2 before stepping up to an SRT-prepared Fabia R5 for the season-closing CNP Asfalistiki Cyprus Rally where, despite his limited experience, he was running in a strong second overall before an accident forced his early exit. The 19-year-old Russian is scheduled to contest all eight ERC events in 2017 – including the six rallies that count for the new ERC Junior U28 Championship – as he continues his impressive career development.
ERC stalwart Jeets will tackle selected events during his second season as an SRT driver and has highlighted the work of the ERC rally organisers and championship promoter Eurosport Events as being key to his continued participation.
Meanwhile, Sirmacis is confirmed for the season opener in the Azores from 30 March-1 April plus his home event in Liepāja from 6-8 October. Like Gryazin, Sirmacis will be registered for the ERC Junior U28 Championship, which will award its inaugural champion with a prize drive in a 2016-specifciation World Rally Car on a European WRC counter in 2018. However, the 22-year-old still needs more funds to mount a championship challenge with ERC Juniors counting their best four scores from a possible six.
SRT Team Manager Joe Labuckas, whose squad will be eligible for the revamped FIA European Rally Championship for Teams, said: “We’re very pleased to continue our participation in the ERC. The championship has given our team a great platform to showcase its expertise and the success we achieved in 2016 is proof of just what we can deliver and the high standards we set ourselves.”
ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley added: “It’s great news that SRT is continuing its ERC adventure and with a great line-up of drivers, including two of the sport’s most promising youngsters, Nikolay Gryazin and Ralfs Sirmacis. SRT is a very professional operation with a strong reputation and a commitment to growing the careers of rising talents. It’s a great team to work with and a real asset to the ERC.”
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