The 2017 ERC Junior Championship will feature the addition of an extra category for the new season, introducing potential stars of the future to R5 machinery.
ERC Junior Under 27 (U27) will feature six events for drivers under the age of 27 at the start of the 2017 season. Competitiors will use R2 cars with Pirelli tyres, wit hteh four best results counting towards the championship and the victor receiving a career progression fund worth 100,000 euros to use in ERC Junior U28 in 2018.
The new ERC Junior Under 28 (U28) class will be open to drivers under 28 at the start of the season. The schedule will run the same as the U27 class but competitors using R5 machinery. The champion will get a drive in a European round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship as a P2 driver in a 2016-specification World Rally Car.
The ERC Junior Championship was launched in 2014 in partnership with the FIA, factory Citroën WRC driver Stéphane Lefebvre won the inaugural title with Emil Bergkvist triumphant in 2015. This season Marijan Griebel took the title.
Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, explained the evolution for 2017, “It’s clear there is a growing number of ERC Junior graduates and other young drivers looking to take the next step in rallying but without the financial means to run a full international campaign in an R5 car or lacking the experience required to achieve consistent success.
“ERC Junior U28 will bridge this gap by providing a step up in performance for ERC Junior U27 graduates, albeit in a managed environment where they will come up against like-minded drivers with similar experience. And by providing a World Rally Championship prize drive to the ERC Junior U28 champion we’re recognising the ambition of young drivers to reach the sport’s top level.”
The ERC Junior Experience will return for 2017 after its inaugural season and once again be run over three events (to be annnounced). The initiative gives young drivers a taste of international rallying with the graduates receiving free entry for ERC Junior U27 in 2018.