Erik Cais and co-driver Jindřiška Žáková will complete this year’s FIA European Rally Championships in the ERC1 Junior championship. Cais, once a competitor in downhill mountain biking, two years ago moved to take part in rallies after an injury during mountain bike training.
The 20-year-old finished last year second place in the ERC3 standings and fourth in ERC3 junior. He is now changing over to a four-wheel-drive Ford Fiesta R5 MKII provided by Orsák Rallysport, Cais will be running under the Yacco ACCR Team banner.
Cais took part in seven rounds of the ERC3 and ERC3 Junior championship last season but was forced to miss out Rally Islas Canarias due to school exams. He made an impressive R5 debut at Rallye du Var where he finished in the tenth place overall.
“It’s really great to be in an R5 car in the European championship as soon as possible to learn and grow, the R2 was really great for the first step but R5 is what we need to know for the next years.” Cais said.
“But if you asked me on my 18th birthday when I was in the hospital with a broken collarbone after a bike crash, if I would be sitting in a rally car, I would say you are joking. Now, three years later, I am in the ERC in an R5 car and it’s absolutely a dream. It’s something I never expected after three seasons in rallying. It’s impossible for my head but now it’s going on so I have to focus.“
“For now, ERC1 Junior is the priority and we will see how the season goes before we decide about the final two rounds in Cyprus and Hungary.”
“I knew the Kopná stages so I could drive really fast, but Rallye du Var was something new for me and I learned a lot of things, including changes to my pace notes. I don’t change the full pace notes but in some corners, the apex is different between R2 and R5 so I need to change the pace notes a bit.” Cais continued.
“The first races of this season will be almost new. I know the Azores from last year but not so much. I know it will be really difficult but I will try to be on the limit as much as I can and do the best I can to use as much as possible the potential of this car.”
“It’s really difficult to compare the mountain bike to the rally car because in mountain bike you only have one stage around three kilometres in length but with 400 people wanting to beat you. In rallying you have 20 or 30 people in your category wanting to beat you and you have to fight for two days, which is really difficult.” Cais added.
“I still need to learn about how much power I can do on the first stage compared to the end of the day, where you can go absolutely flat out and where you can only set the time. On the bicycle, you have only flat out and if you do a mistake you know it’s impossible to take it back. In rallying, you can try to push and I really want to try and do my best to make our partners proud.”