Pirelli has been named the exclusive tyre supplier for the FIA ERC Junior Championship, it has been confirmed.
Under the two-year agreement with ERC promoter, Eurosport Events, Pirelli will equip the next generation of driving talent in both 2016 and 2017.
Drivers must be born on or after 1 January 1989 and compete in front-wheel-drive R2 cars using Pirelli tyres as standard in order to be eligible for the FIA ERC Junior Championship, which attracted a 27-strong entry in 2015 and crowned Emil Bergkvist as its second champion.
He followed on from Stephane Lefebvre, who claimed the inaugural title in 2014 and drove for Citroen in the 2015 World Rally Championship.
ERC co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley said: “We're delighted to continue and develop our collaboration with Pirelli inside ERC, a company that has such a rich heritage in rallying around the world. Pirelli understands the importance of helping young drivers to show how talented they are, which is entirely aligned with the target of Eurosport Events in the development of the ERC Junior Championship: one of the strongest competitions for young rally drivers on an international platform.”
Pirelli product manager Terenzio Testoni added: “Helping young drivers reach the top has always been a key objective for Pirelli, as we have shown many times in the past with our support of different junior series in rallying, as well as the Pirelli Star driver programme. Concluding this important agreement to supply the FIA ERC Junior Championship – which gives young drivers valuable media exposure as well as some fantastic rallies – is now the latest chapter in this story.”
The FIA ERC Junior Championship is held across six ERC rounds with three events taking place on loose surfaces and three on asphalt to help drivers learn essential skills and progress.
The champion will receive a prize drive in an R5 specification car on the 2016 ERC season-closing Cyprus Rally when it is hoped they will be able to showcase their talents and gain vital experience ahead of a full-time switch to the ERC's headlining ERC1 class the following season. Bergkvist drove a Peugeot 208 T16 to fourth overall on the final round of this year's European championship to underline his enormous potential.
Pirelli will use its P Zero RK tyre for the asphalt rounds and the Scorpion K range for the gravel rounds. The Sottozero Ice tyre is likely to be used on the season-opening Rally Liepāja. All of the tyres have been designed specifically for latest R2-specification cars.
2016 FIA ERC Junior Championship calendar
5-7 February Rally Liepāja
7-9 April Circuit of Ireland Rally
(Northern Ireland, asphalt)
2-4 June SATA Rallye Açores
23-25 June Kenotek by CID LINES Ypres Rally
15-17 July auto24 Rally Estonia
26-28 August Barum Czech Rally Zlín
(Czech Republic, asphalt)