Although reigning FIA European Rally Champion Chris Ingram is forced to wait to begin his 2020 campaign, he has predicted the season-opener in Rome next week will a battle between Andrea Crugnola and Alexey Lukyanuk for the rally win.
Speaking on new talk show ‘ERC The Stage’, defending champion Ingram said on who could have a strong result in the first round: “We all know Alexey’s level having won this event before and Crugnola was unbelievable last year. He won pretty much every stage and he’s also just won two rallies in the last two weeks. It will be awesome and I would love to be there to take them on.”
Earlier in the show, the British driver also admitted he has his sights on to step-up to the FIA World Rally Championship following his ERC success last year.
He is also has hoping to be back in the ERC together with his title winning team Toksport WRT and he added: “With Toksport we are still keen to go back to the ERC and do as many rounds as possible.”
“We have decided to skip Rome, which is a big shame because it’s one of my favourite events and one of the best events. There’s always amazing competition and it would have been great to go there, but if you’re going to go there you need to do it properly or not at all. It’s a tough event and the level is very high.“
“The favourites for the rally, drivers like Crugnola, are already testing and doing rallies. I have not driven since Rally Hungary [last November] and we can’t do things by halves. We decided the best thing would be to give ourselves more time to get restarted. We really hope we can resume the action as quickly as possible.”
Ingram started his ERC career back in 2014 when he made his debut in the ERC3 Junior class in a Renault Twingo, ran by his own family team, and this led to him claiming the young driver category title in 2017.
“ERC Junior is the best way to progress, last year we showed that ERC1 Junior is as competitive as the overall championship, the battle I had with Filip Mareš on the Barum Rally was one of the highlights of the season even though I didn’t win. But also ERC3 Junior, which we both did before moving up to ERC1 Junior. ” Ingram added.
“For me it’s the best way to get into international rallying. You’re not restricted to a certain car and when I started the ERC I pretty much turned up with my Dad and a mechanic and we were able to compete. To be able to go from turning up with a family-run team to be able to win the overall championship with a professional team, the ERC made that possible so it’s very special for me.”
“The media coverage is incredible, the rallies are so unique and so challenging. And each event offers such a different challenge. And then the support you get from each place we go to, from the fans, is unbelievable. Wherever we go it’s another world. Every rally is so special individually and it just makes for an amazing championship that I wish I could do every year.” Ingram continued.
Ingram’s predicted winner for next weekend Lukyanuk was his main championship rival in the title chase last season which was decided on the very last stage of Rally Hungary.