Great Gryazin wins FIA ERC Junior under 28 Championship*, secures prize drive chance
*Career-progression opportunity claimed by Russian on final-round decider *He takes prestigious title and prize after three-way battle for glory on Rally Liepāja *ERC Co-ordinator Ley: “All three drivers demonstrated true quality”
The race to win one of the biggest prizes in rallying is over: Nikolay Gryazin is the winner of the FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship for 2018* and the recipient of a prize drive in a World Rally Car on a European round of the world championship in 2019.
He fought off rivals Chris Ingram and Fabian Kreim in a season-closing title showdown on Rally Liepāja, which concluded this afternoon after two days of intense action on high-speed gravel stages in Latvia.
Gryazin, 21, will now be offered a fully-funded drive in a 2016-specification World Rally Car on a European round of the world championship in 2019 by ERC promoter Eurosport Events and follow in the wheel tracks of Marijan Griebel. The German won the inaugural ERC Junior Under 28 title in 2017 and used part of his prize to score overall points on ADAC Rallye Deutschland last August driving a Citroën DS3 WRC.
However, in order to serve Gryazin’s best interests, as an alternative to the World Rally Car prize drive, Eurosport Events will cover the costs of two ERC events next season in an R5 car to a total value of €100,000. There is no restriction on team or car choice but the grant has to cover two ERC rallies in 2019.
“Congratulations to Nikolay on this fantastic achievement,” said ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley. “With three drivers starting Rally Liepāja in contention for this prestigious FIA title and incredible prize, it has been an exciting end to the championship. All three drivers have achieved great things this season and demonstrated true quality. However, there can only be one winner and Nikolay is certainly a deserving champion. We look forward to watching him take his career to the next level with this excellent opportunity.”
Russian Gryazin, whose Pirelli-shod ŠKODA Fabia was co-driven by Yaroslav Fedorov, wins ERC Junior Under 28* – the category for young stars in R5 cars – courtesy of victories on Rally Islas Canarias, Barum Czech Rally Zlín, PZM Rally Poland and now Rally Liepāja, with the latter two outright triumphs.
“It feels good and I’m really satisfied,” said the Sports Racing Technologies driver. “Our target wasn’t to push but to finish and now I can sleep well. I don’t show emotions too much but I’m really happy. We improved a lot this year, we had a good strategy and a good preparation for each event. Now I look to next year when I get two rounds of the ERC as my gift from Eurosport.”
*Subject to confirmation of the results by the FIA.