Recently crowned ERC Under 28 champion Marijan Griebel has turned down the opportunity of a fully paid World Rally Championship drive next year, in favour of a full year of events in the European Rally Championship instead.
Griebel won the U28 crown with a round to spare, and while he has competed in his home round of the WRC five times previously, none have been at the wheel of WRC specification equipment.
Eurosport Events, the promoter behind the European championship, initially awarded a funded drive in a new specification World Rally Car for a single event, but after discussions between the two parties, Griebel has requested the prize fund be used to help support a full championship assault at the wheel of an R5 specification car in the ERC next year.
“As good as the prize of a one-off drive in a World Rally Car is, as I’m not a rich guy it makes more sense for me to do a full programme in an R5 car in 2018,” Griebel explained.
“I’ve only done six full rallies in an R5 car and I need to learn and improve. Rather than risking everything by driving a WRC car for one event with no experience and no chance against the pros and the manufacturer teams, my aim is to do a full programme in an R5 car.
“There’s still some budget missing to do exactly what I want but I’m working with my partners and with Eurosport Events to put everything together. Certainly, as an FIA champion there are more possibilities and more motivation to do something really good.”
Series co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley made clear the change in direction was entirely at Griebel’s request, rather than a change of tactic from the promoter.
“We have talked at length to Marijan and while the World Rally Car option remains on the table for him, he needs to do what’s right for him as he progresses up the rallying ladder,” he said. “This was his decision and he has our full support.”
Griebel has raced a Škoda Fabia R5 prepared by BRR Baumschlager Rallye & Racing Team this year, having spent the previous three seasons campaigning an R2 spec car in the ERC with the factory Opel junior squad.