Opel, who won the European Junior Rally Championship in 2015 with Emil Bergkvist (and also the ERC3 category), have swooped to sign 21 year old rally sensation Chris Ingram to their team in order to lead their defence of the Junior title. Chris will become an Opel works rally driver racing their Adam R2 car for a team with a rich rallying history – tracing back to when in 1982 Opel won the World Rally Championship with Walter Rohl and through to last season where they dominated the ERC3 and Junior classes.
Last season Chris completed his first full season in the European Rally Championship driving for Peugeot UK, taking his first victory at this level in the Rally Azores and winning his career-second Colin McRae Trophy. This result placed the young Brit in a battle with the two factory Opel drivers (Bergkvist & Griebel) for the 2015 title, impressing the Opel team bosses along the way. Two mechanical retirements in a row put a stop on Ingram’s title hopes but after a visit to the Opel Rally team factory, a huge opportunity arose for Chris to take the next big step in his young career.
Making the switch from a Peugeot UK backed 208 R2 to the Opel factory team’s works ADAM R2’s, 21 year old Chris hopes to build on his success in the European Junior Rally Championship with the goal being to clinch his first international title (ERC Junior) using it as a springboard into Category R5, as well as gaining valuable experience competing in many European rallies with a factory team – whilst remaining on target for his ultimate ambition of becoming World Rally Champion.
Chris’ new co-driver is the talented and experienced German female – Katrin Becker. The 34 year old has an impressive record, with multiple Austrian and German rally titles to her name. She will bring her knowledge and expertise to Chris for the first time on Round 1 – Latvia.
Chris commented “I am so excited about this incredible new challenge and the huge season ahead. To have the opportunity to drive for the Opel Motorsport factory team – competing in their excellent Adam R2 car – gives me a real chance of competing for the Junior title, and I will be going flat out from the first rally of the season in Latvia. 2016 is a massive year for me and I am determined to be successful and make a significant mark on the European Rallying scene.
I am very proud to join the Opel Rallye Junior Team and would like to thank them for trusting in me as one of their 2016 team drivers! The ERC is a superb series, the rallies are spectacular, our rivals are fiercely competitive and EUROSPORT provide fantastic coverage giving great publicity to the team, our partners and myself as a driver”
“Mission: Title Defence” for the Opel Rallye Junior Team
Opel with three works ADAM R2 cars in FIA ERC Junior
Marijan Griebel and Julius Tannert competing for ADAC Opel Team as Young Briton Chris Ingram strengthens Opel works team in 2016
Last season, the Briton proved to be one of the toughest rivals of Opel drivers Bergkvist and Griebel in the FIA ERC Junior. Ingram is an exceptional talent and will enrich the team.
“We have a really strong team in the line-up”, says Opel Motorsport Director Jörg Schrott. “No one knows better than we how incredibly tough the competition is in the ERC Junior. Of course the defending champion is permanently under particular pressure to succeed. But we’ve shown that we can handle pressure. I am sure that with the ADAM R2 and our three driver duos we are so well positioned that Opel Motorsport will once again be a force to be reckoned with in 2016.”
In addition to the six FIA ERC Junior rounds, the three Opel works teams are also competing in other events with the highlight being the ADAC Rallye Deutschland (August 18 – 21). The ADAM R2 crews are racing in the German WRC round in Trier as last season‘s class winners also. Opel works teams’ participation in other national and international rallye events will be announced in due time.
To get ready for the FIA ERC Junior 2016, HERE is an exciting video with many of last season’s highlights.
Calendar FIA ERC Junior 2016
February 5 – 7 Rally Liepāja, Liepāja/Latvia (gravel/ice/snow)
April 7 – 9 Circuit of Ireland Rally, Belfast/Northern Ireland (asphalt)
June 2 – 4 SATA Rally Açores, Ponta Delgada/Azores/Portugal (gravel)
June 23 – 25 Ypres Rally, Ypres/Belgium (asphalt)
July 15 – 17 Rally Estonia, Otepää/Estonia (gravel)
August 26 – 28 Barum Czech Rally Zlín, Zlín/Czech Republic (asphalt)