*New initiative to build on success of ERC Junior Championship on three round of the series
*Training programme will take place to provide experience of events prior to next season
*ERC Junior Experience members will receive a guaranteed paid-for entry on 2017 ERC Junior
A brand new training programme will be held at rounds of the FIA European Rally Championship to further the development of the sport’s future star drivers.
ERC promoter Eurosport Events is launching the ERC Junior Experience to expand upon the success of the ERC Junior Championship, in which young drivers compete in R2-specification cars across six ERC events.
First run in 2014, the ERC Junior Championship has already produced two standout champions in Stéphane Lefebvre, who is now competing at the top level of the World Rally Championship in a Citroën, and Emil Bergkvist, this year embarking on a campaign in the WRC2 class in an R5 car. The third ERC Junior season began on the Circuit of Ireland Rally on 7-9 April, with Łukasz Pieniążek emerging as the winner.
Created in collaboration between Eurosport Events and the Future Stars Rally Academy based in Belgium, the ERC Junior Experience will take place at three rounds of the ERC Junior Championship this year and focus on the most important skills that a driver or co-driver require to become a professional rally competitor on the ERC Junior Championship. The three rounds will be the Kenotek by Cid Lines Ypres Rally, auto24 Rally Estonia, and Barum Czech Rally Zlin.
The ERC Junior Experience programme drivers will be present on all three rallies, seeing the event from the point of view of an ERC Junior driver to build up valuable experience. They will complete the recce, while specific coaching, assessment and feedback will be provided in a number of key areas, including driving technique, recces and pacenotes, safety, technical knowledge, media and sponsorship. This will enable drivers to approach the 2017 season with a useful bank of knowledge, having received privileged advice from experts in the field to give them a flying start.
The ERC Junior Experience is aimed at talented young drivers currently competing at a national level but with aspirations in international rallying, who are not yet participating in the ERC Junior Championship. In 2016 it will consist of up to 10 national drivers who are under the age of 26 and therefore eligible to compete in ERC Junior in 2017. A maximum of 10 existing ERC Junior drivers will also be allowed to access the programme, if sufficient places remain, in order to consolidate their skills.
ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley said: “We are well aware of the need for the world of rallying to develop talented young drivers that can compete at an international level. With the ERC Junior Championship we have already produced great drivers like Stéphane Lefebvre and Emil Bergkvist, but we want to do more. The ERC Junior Experience will be the first rallying programme of its type to provide a real and complete international training programme for young drivers, coaching them in the important skills that will help them to become professionals. With the involvement of ASNs, we aim to provide a stepping stone for the best young national drivers to move into international competition.”
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Drivers and teams enquiries: Jean-Baptiste Ley, Jean-Baptiste_Ley@discovery.com
Future Stars Rally Academy enquiries: Evelien Deschuytter, email@example.com
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