The second round of the FIA European Junior Rally Championship served up a thrilling battle on the final leg of the Circuit of Ireland Rally. After the dust had settled it was Sweden’s Emil Bergkvist that took the win from ADAC Opel Rallye Junior team-mate Marijan Griebel by just 0.7 of a second.
The big story from leg 1 was the retirement of over night leader Jon Armstrong. The Northern Irishman suffered a power issue in his Peugeot 208 R2 and was forced to retire at the end of the first day 1.
“Just before the Newtownards stage we suffered a power problem.” said Armstrong speaking to The Checkered Flag. “We weren’t able to find the problem so we were forced to retire. It’s very disappointing because we could have gotten a good result here which would have been good for the championship.”
Bergkvist inherited the lead but he was under heavy pressure from Griebel and Chris Ingram. Heading into service the top three were separated by just 24.5 seconds.
Over the two Lisburn town stages Griebel managed to leapfrog his team-mate to lead by 8.7 seconds with four stages to go.
The ADAC Opel Junior Rallye team-mates swapped times throughout the afternoon until Bergkvist retook the lead on stage 16 to lead by just 1 second with two stages to go.
The battle didn’t simmer on the next test as Bergkvist managed to widen his slender lead to just 2 seconds. Griebel knew he had to attack on the final test and managed to win the final stage but it was not enough to stop Emil Bergkvist from taking the win. Chris Ingram finished third after an improved performance on day 2.
“It was a really close fight during all the rally.” said the Swede after the event. “We did a really good recce because this was not so easy rally for us first time here. I really like it but it was a really hard win for us. It feels great to have the second win and I hope we can continue like this.”
Despite his retirement Jon Armstrong was awarded the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy for his performance on day 1 of the event.
The third round of the ERC Junior series takes crews to Portugal for the Rally Asores on June 4.