Feb 9, 2015
Rüsselsheim/Munich. Sensational start to the season for the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team! In their first run as Opel works drivers, Emil Bergkvist (20, Torsåker) and co-driver Joakim Sjöberg (29, Ösmo) won the first race of the FIA ERC Junior, the Rallye Liepāja in Latvia, in the Opel ADAM R2. After eleven extremely demanding rounds, the two Swedes won a good half-minute ahead of Norwegian Steve Rokland and Latvian Ralfs Sirmacis (both Peugeot 208 R2), thereby taking over the lead in the overall ratings of the FIA ERC Junior. In addition, in their front-wheel drive vehicle with “only” 190 hp in the midst of considerably more powerful, all-wheel drive competition, last year’s winners of the ADAC Opel Rallye Cup also achieved an impressive sixth place in the overall ratings.
With three consecutive top round times, Bergkvist/Sjöberg made a clear statement right at the beginning of the first rallye day and laid the groundwork for their triumph, which hardly any of the experts anticipated to this extent. “I am speechless,” exulted Bergkvist. “Of course we knew what a fantastic rallye car the Opel ADAM R2 is, and we went into this race with a lot of confidence in our own abilities. But we also knew how tough the competition would be in the FIA ERC Junior. The driving skill level here is absolutely top. And the external conditions were extremely difficult – snow, rain, fog, soaked gravel, wet snow and ice kept taking turns. So I’m all the happier that Jocke and I brought the car across the finish line without any major mistakes. My thanks to the entire team that worked perfectly both during the rallye and preparations leading up to it. I can hardly wait for the next races in the ADAM R2!”
Marijan Griebel (25, Hahnweiler) and his co-driver Stefan Clemens (28, Weiskirchen) in the second works ADAM R2 had an unfortunate end to their race in Latvia. The duo had found a good rhythm in the fourth round, driving in ninth place when the sudden end came after night had already fallen over the Latvian Baltic Sea coast. “Small mistake, big consequence,” said Griebel. “As long as the car was precisely on track, grip was good with the spike tires. But just a few centimeters off of the ideal line, traction was completely gone. That’s exactly what happened to us in a fast right curve. We drove too far out and slid into the ditch, which in and of itself wouldn’t have been a problem. Unfortunately we hit a crossroad head-on, the car pitched down and rolled over.”
Because the accident site was around one hundred kilometers from Liepāja, it took hours before the damaged ADAM R2 made it back to the service area. There the team led by Technical Director of Opel Motorsport, Dietmar Metrich, decided to forego an attempt to repair the vehicle on site.
The extremely challenging conditions also took their toll on both Opel customer teams during the start of the European Championship. Pole Aleks Zawada and his French co-driver Cathy Derousseaux had just clocked their best time in round six when they slid into a ditch and had to withdraw from the Rallye in the following round. German Julius Tannert and his Luxembourgish co-driver Jennifer Thielen had a stroke of bad luck when they lost a wheel in the second round without the involvement of any external force. In order to complete further test kilometers on gravel and snow, Tannert/Thielen competed again on the second Rallye day and at least reached the finish line in Liepāja.
The next race for the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team is March 6-7 at the ADAC Saarland-Pfalz Rallye. The asphalt race around St. Wendel, which is also where the ADAC Opel Rallye Cup season starts, is to serve as another test for Griebel and Bergkvist for the second ERC Junior race taking place in Ireland on April 2-4.
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