Current FIA Junior WRC Champion Emil Bergkvist and co-driver Patrik Barth took a well-deserved second place in WRC2 on Rally Portugal and tenth overall.
Bergkvist took to the Rally de Portugal stages in his Pirelli equipped, M-Sport EcoBoost-powered Fiesta R5 car that he was awarded as part of the unrivalled FIA Junior WRC Championship prize package.
A top-three WRC2 finish is a career first for Bergkvist, in only his second event since winning the junior crown in 2018, underlining the vital role FIA Junior WRC plays in developing the future stars of WRC.
Opening his rally inside the top five of WRC2, Bergkvist ended Friday sixth out of the 21 WRC2 runners still on the road. He quickly began to deliver top-five times on the second day of rallying in Portugal with the third fastest WRC2 time on Vieira do Minho 1, Saturday’s first speed test. After crossing the finish line on SS13, Bergkvist had done enough to climb from fifth to second in WRC2 on Saturday while sitting 12th overall.
A smart and confident set of stages followed on Sunday as Bergvist didn’t let the pressure of a strong potential WRC2 result affect him. He delivered on every remaining stage to maintain position and seal his first ever top-three result in WRC2, with second in WRC2 and tenth overall.
Oldrati shows gravel potential ahead of Sardinia
FIA Junior WRC driver Enrico Oldrati entered Rally de Portugal in a Pirelli shod M-Sport Fiesta R2 car for important preparation ahead of Rally Italia Sardinia, the next round of the FIA Junior WRC Championship. Oldrati was seventh in class on Saturday morning, but climbed his way up to second by the end of the first loop and managed to build a 51.3s lead at the end of the day.
Oldrati posted faultless stage times on Sunday and was set to take a class win. On the road section following the final competitive stage of the event, a broken radiator forced the Italian to retire, but he had done more than enough to demonstrate his ability as a Junior WRC driver.
Evans vs Bergkvist
A unique pairing presented itself for Friday’s Super Special Stage at the Lousada rallycross circuit as Bergkvist lined up to go head to head against 2012 WRC Academy winner Elfyn Evans. Going against the M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC car, Bergvist finished 4.6s behind Evans who recorded a time of 2m38.6s. Despite the one-sided matching, the head to head underlined how effective the FIA Junior WRC is in developing WRC talent and providing career making opportunities.
FIA Junior WRC Championship Manager, Maciej Woda, said:
“We have witnessed two exceptional performances from Emil and Enrico. It’s great to see Emil achieve a great result on a rally he was able to learn in Junior WRC and in a car he was awarded thanks to winning the Junior WRC Championship. Emil’s achievement underlines everything that Junior WRC exists to provide for; giving drivers experience on key WRC events to develop their pace notes and provide the champion with the tools and equipment to become a star of WRC. It confirms that Junior WRC is the way forward for any rally driver aiming for the world stage.
“Enrico should be really proud of his performance this weekend, he led the RC4 cars for a lot of the rally and was ahead at the end of the last competitive stage which is fantastic. More importantly, he has gained a lot of very important experience on a WRC gravel event. It is great preparation for Sardinia which is now less than two weeks away.”
Emil Bergkvist: 10th overall / 2nd in WRC2
“I’m super happy with my second place, it’s been very, very challenging with the heat as it has been so hot. The new stages on Friday were a big challenge, the second loop was quite rough. We did our own rally with no mistakes so I am really happy with that. It’s very challenging to stay calm in the top three. I learned from last year in the Junior WRC Championship that it’s very important to finish the events with no mistakes which is what I did and it paid off.”
Enrico Oldrati: Retired (RC4 Class)
“It’s always good to be back in Portugal, last year I finished second in Junior WRC here and this year we tried to improve which we did. Unfortunately, after the last stage on the road section coming back to the service, we had some trouble with our radiator and we had to stop. Thinking positively, we covered a lot of kilometres this weekend and we gained a lot of experience. I enjoyed the stages, the fans were fantastic and we learned a lot about the tyres which will help us a lot for Sardinia.”