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Marijan Griebel and Opel: Together to European Rally Championship

Sep 22, 2016

  • Marijan Griebel is first German European Rally champion in fifteen years
  • Dramatic title win at ERC Junior 2016 season finale in Latvia
Opel News - Marijan Griebel in his Opel ADAM R2 is the first German European Rally Champion since 15 years

Rüsselsheim.  Marijan Griebel is the ERC Junior 2016 champion. In an event that could hardly have been more exciting and dramatic, the Opel works driver won the season finale of the FIA ERC Junior, the Rally Liepāja in Latvia, and so celebrated the first European Champion title for a German driver in fifteen years.

 

The 27 year-old police inspector from Hahnweiler, Germany, has become the model driver from Opel and ADAC’s joint rally promotion program. In 2013 he was junior champion in the ADAC Opel Rallye Cup, the toughest cup rally in Europe. In 2014 Griebel advanced to the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team, and as a member of the Opel works team, he has been part of the ADAM R2’s impressive success story. Already in his first year as an Opel works driver, Griebel took the German Rally Championship by storm, easily winning the title in his division.

Opel News - European Rally Champion Marijan Griebel and co-driver Pirmin Winklhofer in their Opel ADAM R2

The following year, Griebel and his Swedish teammate Emil Bergkvist stirred things up in the FIA ERC Junior with their 190 hp ADAM R2s – the Scandinavian captured the first European Championship title for Opel in 33 years, while the German finished in third place in the field of Europe’s best rally talents. Being “defeated” by his teammates motivated Griebel even more: “Emil is a super talented driver and brought lots of experience on all surfaces in spite of his youth. I’d only driven one gravel rally before and first had to take in driving at the limit on a loose surface. I’d learned a lot to 2016 and so believed in myself and my chances of winning the championship. And I think my speed has never been as good as this year.”

 

Indeed: 2016 was Marijan Griebel’s year. After an incredibly strong season that also included the third class victory in a row at the German event of the World Rally Championship, the finale of FIA ERC Junior in Latvia turned into a thrilling battle for the title between Griebel and his British teammate and ERC Junior overall leader Chris Ingram (22). In second place in overall points, Griebel and his co-driver Pirmin Winklhofer (21, from Pocking) faced a huge challenge: nothing but victory at this extremely demanding gravel rally around the Baltic Sea port of Liepāja would secure Griebel the title – and this not only against the tough competition from his own stable, but also against the gravel specialists from Scandinavia and the Baltic states. “I had calculated no more than a 15 to 20 percent chance for myself,” admitted Griebel. “I knew that if I drove even one special stage at less than 100 percent and started thinking too much the title would be lost as certainly as if I made a mistake. So I tried to think and ponder as little as possible. That worked well.“

Opel News - The dream-team of co-driver Pirmin Winklhofer and Marijan Griebel (right)

Marijan Griebel kept his cool under immense pressure. Following a grueling battle on gravel for every tenth of a second, the Opel works driver narrowly beat all competitors after 13 special stages and more than 200 special stage kilometers, and thus celebrated the urgently needed second season victory in the FIA ERC Junior. The relief at the finish line was boundless: “When my main competitors were through and I knew I’d done it, I just felt pure joy and the tremendous pressure slipped away. I wanted this title so badly and I worked really hard for it the last years. I am thrilled that this dream has come true.” The 2016 season also marked another milestone in Opel’s rally history: the top four drivers in the FIA ERC Junior 2016 all drove an ADAM R2.

 

Opel Motorsport Director Jörg Schrott also praises his protégé’s hard work: “Marijan is unbelievably meticulous, and he unifies incredible professionalism with unconditional commitment. But he is also a great team player who knows that success can only be achieved together. The way he has continually improved with us over the years demands respect. His performance in Latvia, where he had to drive faultlessly at the absolute limit under immense pressure for two days, was outstanding. He deserves this European Champion title more than anyone else.”