The 17-year-old rally talent Mille Johansson from Sweden will drive the FIA European Junior Rally Championship in 2023. Together with new co-driver Johan Grönvall, they will run six rallies in the FIA ERC Junior together with the WRC-experienced team IKsport in a two-wheel drive Ford Fiesta Rally4.
– It will be really fun, and challenging, to start in this year’s Junior ERC. The goal for this season is to build experience from these rallies, and of course try to get some good results, says Mille.
In 2022, Mille Johansson made his international rally debut, when together with IKsport he drove the Slovenian rally championship. There, Mille showed speed right from the start by taking a stage victory in his first rally on asphalt, and during the year take three podiums in the tough championship. Now Mille is stepping up to the highest European level together with IKsport. The season runs over six rallies, with the premiere in Poland May 20-21 – Barely three weeks after Mille’s 18th birthday.
– I’m coming from a year on only tarmac in Slovenia, which was the whole idea of that venture. Because half of the Junior ERC is run on asphalt. We got that experience there, which we don’t have the same opportunity for in Sweden. I also had a first year with my own pace notes, which was incredibly educational, continues Mille.
Since Mille started with karting, and later formula car racing, the goal from day one has been to reach the World Rally Championship, WRC. The European Championship series is now run by the WRC Promoter, which means, among other things, that all stages from all events are broadcast live via Rally.TV. And that the winner of the European Junior-series gets a drive in the following year’s FIA Junior World Rally Championship.
– The FIA ERC has really taken a big steg forward this year, and that means that the pace will be incredibly high with a lot of fast crews from all over Europe. It will be tough to keep up, but we will do our best, and constantly develop, says Mille.
New co-driver for Mille will be Johan Grönvall. In the last few seasons, Johan has competed with Swedish talent Linus Harling in the national championship, where last year they won a medal in both the Swedish Championship as well as the Junior Championship.
– It will be great to get into the car with Mille this season. Mille is a young talent who has already gathered a lot of experience and has a high goal with his career, so it will be really fun to follow along on this journey. His investment and ambition in rallying is absolutely incredible, says Johan. Getting in to the ERC feels very big to me. This very thing about competing abroad, and getting to do the European Championship, has been both a dream and a goal when I started my career. So now that I get the chance to do it, I will give everything to make it a successful season.
– Johan comes from the Swedish Championship, and wants to venture out towards Europe. So it was a perfect opportunity to start competing together. We have had a meeting, and are looking forward to the first test together, concludes Mille.
The FIA European Rally Championship, for Juniors is run over six rallies. The series begins on May 20-21 on gravel in Poland and then continues to Latvia and the home event in Värmland, Sweden on July 7-8. After three races on gravel, the series ends with three asphalt rallies in Italy, the Czech Republic and Hungary. All crews in the Junior ERC are 27 years old or younger, compete in two-wheel drive cars and drive on tires from Hankook.
Mille will also continue together with the Swedish Champion-team GN Motorsport, and run selected competitions in Sweden and other countries during the year. As well as the mentorship from the double World Champion Pontus Tidemand, who also drives the ERC-series in the four-wheel drive class.