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MRF first Indian crew to win European Rally Championship | Autocar India

Written by Gulati

Efren Llarena and Sara Fernandez have gained the 2022 European Rally Championship for Crew MRF Tyres.

Crew MRF Tyres’ Efren Llarena and co-driver Sara Fernandez sealed the 2022 European Rally Championship (ERC) with two rounds to spare, following Simone Tempestini’s late withdrawal from this weekend’s Barum Czech Rally Zlin. This makes MRF the first-ever Indian producer to win a championship in top-level European rallying.

  • Llarena wins drivers’ title with two rounds to spare
  • Sara Fernandez secures back-to-back co-drivers’ championship titles

Consistency key to MRF’s title victory

Driving a Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo, Llarena and Fernandez have scored factors in each single spherical of the ERC to this point this yr. It’s this consistency that has handed the duo an unassailable factors lead, sufficient to clinch the title with two rounds nonetheless to go.

They acquired off to a troublesome begin after radiator injury meant they might solely end 12th within the season-opening Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras. However the subsequent spherical, the Azores Rallye, noticed them clinch MRF’s maiden ERC rally win. They adopted that up with second place in Rally Islas Canarias and fourth place on high-speed gravel terrain in Poland.

MRF sealed a 1-2 end in Tet Rally Liepaja, with Llarena ending behind teammate Martins Sesks. A fourth place end within the Rally di Roma Capitale and closest rival Tempestini pulling out of the Czech Republic spherical gave Llarena sufficient factors to seal the title.

With this, Llarena turns into the primary Spanish ERC champion since Antonio Zanini in 1980, whereas Fernandez secures back-to-back co-drivers’ championship titles. “It is a essential yr for MRF. We tried our greatest and put all our effort into the tyre growth, so I believe we labored actually arduous in a single route,” Llarena stated.

MRF’s European Rally Championship journey

After tasting success within the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, MRF Tyres joined the ERC in 2020. With the ERC protecting quite a lot of terrain, the corporate took on an aggressive programme to develop tyres that may be aggressive on tarmac, gravel and snow. They ended up fourth within the groups’ standings in 2020 and fifth in 2021.

Commenting on the crew’s 2022 ERC triumph, Arun Mammen, vice chairman and managing director of MRF Tyres, stated, “It’s a testomony to the work put in by our complete crew to give you championship-winning tyres which have carried out on the high degree in European rallying, thereby showcasing our superior technical capabilities… It’s certainly a really prestigious and proud second for us to be topped FIA European Rally Champions 2022.”

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Gulati