After the disappointing postponement of the Rallye Liepāja in Latvia in early February due to the weather, the Circuit of Ireland Rally from April 7 – 9 now marks the start of the 2016 FIA ERC Junior season. As the defending champion, Opel Motorsport is going into the new season with high expectations. Especially because Emil Bergkvist and Marijan Griebel finished the asphalt race around Northern Ireland’s capital city Belfast in the ADAM R2 with a double victory last year. Opel works drivers Marijan Griebel (26, from Hahnweiler), Julius Tannert (25, from Zwickau) and Chris Ingram (21, from Manchester) have again set their sights on podium finishes this season.
“The demanding stages on the narrow yet extremely fast asphalt roads with lots of hills and jumps leave no room for error. I expect the toughest competition to come from my teammates,” says last year’s runner-up Marijan Griebel, who is racing with his new co-driver Pirmin Winklhofer (20, from Pocking) for the first time. Like Griebel, Julius Tannert is racing for the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team. As winner of the 2015 ADAC Opel Rallye Cup, Tannert is heading into his first ERC as an Opel works driver. “I am really looking forward to it and feel very well prepared,” says Tannert, who is racing with his regular co-driver Jennifer Thielen (31, from Luxembourg). “I want to deliver a good performance on the fast asphalt roads in Northern Ireland and fight for a top spot in the FIA ERC Junior.”
Opel newcomer Chris Ingram can hardly wait for his first race with co-driver Katrin Becker (35, from Schlitz) at his side. “The Circuit of Ireland is a legendary rallye with some of the best stages in Europe and a fantastic atmosphere. Last year the Opel drivers and I really battled it out. And now this year I myself am in this unbelievable ADAM R2,” says Ingram, who is racing under the Opel Rallye Junior Team flag. The competition at the Circuit of Ireland Rally is as tough as ever this year: twenty-six R2 vehicles from the RC4 category, including eight teams registered in the FIA ERC Junior and thirteen in the ERC3, will tackle fourteen extremely demanding asphalt stages totaling more than 210 kilometers. Eight Opel ADAM R2 cars are competing in the Circuit of Ireland Rally. In addition to the three works drivers, Pole Lukasz Pieniaczek, Irishman Callum Devine as well as the juniors Mattias Adielsson (Sweden), Robert Duggan and Arron Windus (both UK) supported by Vauxhall are behind the wheel of one of the 190 hp racing machines. Opel will be offering live timing of the Circuit of Ireland Rally on the website: www.opel-motorsport.com