Last week, the now 18-year-old Mille Johansson from Sweden got his driver’s license. This weekend, he and Vco-driver Johan Grönwall will make their debut in the FIA ERC Juniors in Poland.
– The feeling for the weekend is great. I am excited to take on the European elite in rallying. It’s great that the season is finally starting again after a long break, and we come well prepared, says Mille Johansson, and continues:
– A ERC-start has always been a dream, and that is now coming true thanks to all our partners and sponsors. It will be really fun and, above all, cool to drive a rally at this level.
Last year, Mille made his international rally debut, then only 16 years old, in the Slovenian championship. Much-needed experience was gathered there for this year’s venture in the ERC Junior, where Mille competes for the Slovenian team IKsport Racing in a two-wheel-drive Ford Fiesta Rally4.
This weekend’s premiere of the FIA ERC is run in Mikołajki in north-eastern Poland on some of the world’s fastest gravel roads. In the junior class, for two-wheel drive cars, 16 crews will start.
– It will be tough with many fast crews, and above all their previous experience from these roads that we do not have. But the challenge also lies in making good notes, and a good feeling in the car is super important when it goes as fast as it does, continues Mille.
The rally will be the first together for Mille and new co-driver Johan Grönwall. The duo has tested together before the competition, and they have found a good feeling in the collaboration.
– I am also excited, and have put in a lot of time for this competition before departure. So I feel ready, says Johan. Getting to do the ERC feels very big to me. It’s a lot of new things that I haven’t experienced before back home in Sweden. I’ve done co-driving before, but the preparations and many small details that can make a big difference are new to me. But I think we have everything under control, so it will be a good ERC-debut.
In the class, Mille and Johan are set against fellow Swedes Viktor Hansen/Viktor Johansson and Simon Andersson/Jörgen Jönsson, among others. But also the fast Italian Roberto Daprà and Australian Max McRae, nephew of the legendary World Champion Colin McRae.
– The goals for the weekend are to build experience on these special roads, and find a good feeling on the gravel. Because this will be my first competition on gravel in a Rally4 car, while this is also my and Johan’s first competition together, concludes Mille.
Rally Poland is decided over a total of 16 stages. The rally starts on Friday 19/5 with a shakedown, the last full-speed test before the competition. After that, a super special stage awaits in Mikołajki during Friday evening. Seven stages are run on Saturday, and another eight stages finish the rally on Sunday. The entire competition is broadcast live by ERC via the streaming service www.Rally.TV.
A total of 13 Swedes take part in the competition, including Junior World Champions Pontus Tidemand and Tom Kristensson.