Junior World Rally Championship puts the accent on youth with Pirelli Sottozero in Sweden
This year, Pirelli is exclusively supplying the Junior World Rally Championship: a key part of the company’s strategy to bring on the next generation of champions. Consisting of five rounds, starting with Rally Sweden, it will be fought out between some of the most promising young talents in rallying in identical Ford Fiesta R2Ts prepared by M-Sport. At the end of the season, the champion will become the owner of a brand-new Fiesta R5 together with a tyre and fuel package as well as other assistance towards the 2019 WRC2 season. The JWRC competitors: A strong field of 15 drivers (all born since 1989) are registered for the 2018 Junior WRC, representing 12 nations from around the world. Umberto Accornero: An Italian, who actually began his career in British rallies. He will miss Sweden and instead begin his campaign on the Tour de Corse. Emil Bergkvist: The Swede won the European junior title in 2015 and now returns to R2 machinery after two seasons in WRC2. Navigated by the experienced Norwegian Ola Floene, former co-driver of Andreas Mikkelsen and Mads Ostberg. Luca Bottarelli: The 20-year-old has support from ACI Team Italia, a Pirelli-backed initiative to help develop young Italian drivers. “I think it’s a really good opportunity to improve my experience,” he said. Theo Chalal: One of three Frenchmen aiming to follow in the footsteps of M-Sport’s Sebastien Ogier: himself a former JWRC champion. “It’s a chance for me to discover a new championship and new rallies,” commented Theo. Callum Devine: Makes the step up after winning the British junior title in 2017. “There are guys here with a lot more experience than us; if we get close to them and show our pace we’ll be happy,” added Callum. Emilio Fernandez: Hails from Chile, so Rally Sweden may provide a stark contrast to what he’s used to, but he does know the Fiesta R2T well. Terry Folb: A protégé of Sebastien Loeb and one of the most experienced drivers in the field, having come third in the JWRC in both 2015 and 2017. Jean-Baptiste Franceschi: Became French Junior Champion last year, earning him a place on his national federation’s ‘Equipe de France’ scheme, which also launched the careers of Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier. David Holder: Champion of New Zealand in 2016, he hopes to emulate fellow Kiwi Hayden Paddon, who got his break through the Pirelli Star Driver scheme. Enrico Oldrati: His father and uncle have both competed in the Italian rally championship, but Enrico’s debut only came in December, against the likes of Valentino Rossi at the Monza Rally Show. He benefits from the experience of well-known co-driver Danilo Fappani. Denis Radstrom: Another Swede, who actually hails from Torsby where Rally Sweden is based. Stepped up to the JWRC last year and finished the year fifth in the standings. Ralfs Sirmacis: A Latvian who came second to Bergkvist in the European junior series in 2015 and then won three European championship rallies outright the following year. Billed as a star of the future, Ralfs is looking to start his campaign in Corsica. Julius Tannert: Dominated the Opel Adam Cup in his native Germany in 2015 to earn a European junior campaign on Pirelli tyres before switching to JWRC last year, winning the class at home. Ken Torn: Estonian champion at R2 level last year. Co-driver Kuldar Sikk has also worked with Ott Tanak in the past, including when Tanak was part of the Pirelli Star Driver scheme. Tom Williams: The godson of Richard Burns, who was world champion in 2001 with Pirelli. Only 19 but came second in his class in the British championship in 2017, and also gained WRC experience in Finland and Germany. The rules: The JWRC drivers are allowed to use up to 22 tyres during the event, with a separate allocation for the shakedown. Pirelli quote: Terenzio Testoni, rally activity manager: “Our support of the Junior World Rally Championship fits in perfectly with our company-wide philosophy to support young drivers and provide them with a ladder of talent to reach the top, which in the past has helped current WRC factory drivers such as Craig Breen, Elfyn Evans, Hayden Paddon, and Ott Tanak through schemes such as Pirelli Star Driver and WRC Academy. Now we’re delighted to promote the next generation of young drivers, starting in Sweden this weekend.” Media function: The Junior World Rally Championship will be presented at a special function at the M-Sport hospitality in the Rally Sweden service park from 17:15 to 17:45 on Wednesday 14 February. All accredited media are welcome to attend.
***For further information about Pirelli or to arrange an interview with Pirelli’s rally activity manager Terenzio Testoni, please contact Anthony Peacock on +44 (0)7765 896 930 or firstname.lastname@example.org For more information on Rally Sweden, please visit: www.rallysweden.com