Rallye Team Spain’s ERC success has continued with the capture of the coveted FIA European Rally Championship for Teams for 2020**.
The talent-backing initiative from Spanish motorsport federation RFEDA (Real Federación Española de Automovilismo) has helped young prospects Efrén Llarena and Pep Bassas step up from national to international level with ERC3 Junior prize drives in 2018 and 2020 after they claimed the Spanish Beca Júnior R2 title in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
Indeed, 25-year-old Llarena created such a strong impression during his ERC3 Junior campaign in 2018 that support was found to enable him to complete a second ERC3 Junior season in 2019. After winning the title, Llarena graduated to ERC1 Junior with long-term co-driver Sara Fernández in 2020 and finished a fine third in the standings in a Citroën C3 R5. Bassas, meanwhile, took the runner-up spot in ERC3 Junior alongside Axel Coronado driving a Peugeot 208 Rally4 after winning the Pirelli-supported class on Rally Fafe Montelongo.
With Rallye Team Spain expanding to two cars for 2020 to accommodate 27-year-old Bassas alongside Llarena, a bid to win the FIA European Rally Championship for Teams became possible with points scored by Bassas and Llarena enough to beat the runner-up Saintéloc Junior Team and third-placed Estonian Autosport Junior Team.
Manuel Aviñó, the RFEDA President, said: “We feel really satisfied as FIA ERC Teams’ champions in such a strange season like this. In a normal context, we would have had the chance to fight with Pep Bassas and Axel Coronado until the last round for the FIA ERC3 Junior Championship. At the end of the day it hasn’t been possible, so this is a great honour for Rallye Team Spain in 2020.
“Efrén, Sara, Pep and Axel have done their best in each rally during the second half of the season. And the FIA ERC Teams’ title is the best prize for all the effort done by all the people, institutions and sponsors involved in this amazing project.
“Let’s work for next year with the FIA ERC1 Junior and FIA ERC3 Junior titles as the main target. Alejandro Cachón, the 21-year-old Spanish Beca Júnior R2 champion, is about to join the team for 2021. He has gained experience during his first national programme, proving his skill from the beginning, and also on last month’s Rally Islas Canarias, where he drove a 4WD car for the first time. He has a great potential and we can achieve great results with him.”
Llarena and Bassas reflect on a job well done
“The FIA European Rally Championship for Teams was part of Rallye Team Spain’s goals for this season,” said Efrén Llarena. “It was completely clear for Sara and me that when Pep and Axel joined the team we could get this title. It’s fantastic for the project to succeed again in such a demanding championship like the ERC for the second season in a row.”
Pep Bassas said: “The FIA European Rally Championship for Teams is a great achievement for the Rallye Team Spain project. All of us were focused on it since the beginning of the season, but, at the same time, we had a very clear idea of the difficulties of that challenge at the start of our international career without any previous experience in ERC events. However, we trusted in ourselves and we are really proud that Rallye Team Spain has been crowned the champion team in ERC. I was committed to give back all the great support received this season from the Rallye Team Spain people. I’m completely grateful. If I would not gain the opportunity to get involved in this project, I could never dream with such a great programme like I’ve done this season as an FIA ERC3 Junior title contender. It has been really special. Big thanks!”
FIA European Rally Championship for Teams – how it works:
Registered ERC teams can nominate a maximum of three cars from ERC-registered drivers, in either four- or two-wheel-drive configuration or a combination of both, to score points on each event. The results of the two highest-placed cars from a team count, with teams tallying their best five scores from a possible six. And with points distributed according to the ERC1/ERC2 and ERC3 classifications of the rally, a team could score a maximum of 50 points per event with 25 on offer in 4WD and 25 also up for grabs in 2WD. A prestigious FIA title goes to the winning team.
**Subject to confirmation of the final results