Team MRF set for 2021 ERC season; Breen to enter full-time, Campedelli in few
The team will have one full-time entrant and one part-time.
Team MRF Tyres is ready to return to the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) for the 2021 season, which starts at Rally Poland this weekend. After a successful 2020 campaign where MRF Tyres became the first Indian tyre manufacturer to enter top line rallying, the 2021 ERC season presents a new challenge for the team.
Craig Breen is back to lead the team’s efforts with regular co-driver Paul Nagle. The Irish ace led MRF Tyres’ aggressive tyre development campaign in 2020 and will be back to continue the job both on stage and between rallies. They will be back in their Hyundai i20 Rally2, the same car that they took to stage wins and competed at the front last year.
Italian ace, Simone Campedelli will join them with Tania Canton in the co-driver’s seat. Campedeilli will be undertaking a part season in Volkswagen Polo R5, alongside his Italian Rally Championship – Gravel commitments for the team. The ERC is the primary objective in an expanded 2021 season for Team MRF Tyres. The team has achieved two podiums in three rounds in the Finnish Rally Championship with Emil Lindholm.
The success has been replicated in the Italian Gravel Championship with Campedelli taking two podiums from two rounds and Paolo Andreucci taking the team’s first win in the last round. Such results demonstrate the great strides the team has taken during the past 12 months but, when you want to compete with the best in the world, the job is never done.
Like 2020, this season will see more attempts at tyre development with stage miles being the most important outcome of each rally. The 2021 European Rally Championship consists of eight rounds packed into five months, thanks to the Covid pandemic. The season features four gravel rounds and four tarmac rounds in seven countries.
The first round is the 77th Rally Poland, held around the town of Mikołajki. It is a specialrally for Poland, as it is the 100th anniversary of the first Rally Poland and the crews will be treated to a spectacular street stage around the capital of Warsaw to end the rally. The gravel roads are known for the pace and their narrowness.
The crews the move to Rally Liepāja in Lativa for another blast on gravel. The rally is headquartered on the coastal town of Liepāja and the crews will spend the first day in Tulsi, in the north of the country. This will be the first repeat rally for Team MRF Tyres. The third round is Rally di Roma Capitale. The Italian round is headquartered in Fiuggi, not far from the Italian capital of Rome and the summer tarmac will prove to be a challenge.
Another new rally for Team MRF Tyres follows with the Czech Rally Zlin. This rally has been a mainstay of the ERC for many seasons and is a favourite for teams and fans alike. The second half of the season sees back-to-back Portuguese rounds, both having been rescheduled from their March dates because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The first of the rounds takes us to the Azores Rallye and Ponte del Garda. The island rally offers spectacular scenery but the crews will have little time to admire them as they tackle the gravel roads. Then follows Fafe and the Rallye Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras. The rally in Fafe was held on tarmac in 2020 but moves to gravel in 2021 in what proves to be yet another new challenge for the crews.
The last two rounds of the season return to tarmac. First off is Rally Hungary. The rally is held in the east of the country in Nyíregyháza and provides a challenge to the teams as the roads are narrow, slippery with a unique grading to catch out the unaware. The season ends in November on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria. Rescheduled from Spring to late Autumn, the Spanish island offers flowing tarmac, a world away from what Hungary offered.
The competition will be tight with up to forty of the world’s best drivers competing in Rally 2 machinery for outright victory. The FIA ERC will be providing live radio of all the stages with selected stages being streamed for free online. Additionally, highlights packages will be shown on Eurosport after each event.
Craig Breen, Driver, Hyundai i20 Rally2 , said: “I am looking forward to getting back in the car again. I am pleased to see the results of the rest of the team on MRF Tyres so far in 2021. I have been waiting anxiously to get back in the car for MRF Tyres.” I am looking forward to getting the Championship started for 2021.”
Simone Campedelli, Driver, Volkswagen Polo R5 , added: "I decided to move to the ERC as part of the MRF Tyres project. I am excited about the season and I have had two podiums in the Italian Gravel Rally Championship and I am excited to be rallying internationally again. We will also have some rallies, like Rome where I am more experienced where I can push the tyres a little more. I am looking forward to Rally Poland, the European Rally Championship season and the next step with MRF Tyres.”
The 2021 FIA ERC calendar
1 - 18-20 June - Poland 77th Rally Poland (Gravel)
2 - 1-3 July - Rally Liepāja (Gravel)
3 - 23-25 July - Rally di Roma Capitale (Tarmac)
4 - 27-29 August - 50th Barum Czech Rally Zlin (Tarmac)
5 - 16-18 September - 55th Azores Rallye (Gravel)
6 - 1-3 October - Rallye Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras (Gravel)
7 - 22-24 October - Rally Hungary (Tarmac)
8 - 18-20 November - Rally Islas Canarias (Tarmac)
[Image courtesy: MRF Racing] [Note: The above is as per press release with no changes made]