A WRC newbie’s insight into the step up

Mikołaj Marczyk is currently on a voyage of discovery in WRC's second-tier


Whether you’re a fan watching, a budding engineer or a driver climbing up the ranks, the World Rally Championship is – and always will be – the pinnacle. The undisputed place to be.

But compared to national – or even regional – rallying, the step up is clear. It takes a lot more to be successful in the WRC.

Mikołaj Marczyk is currently on that voyage of discovery.

Twice a national champion back home in Poland and an event winner in the European Rally Championship, there’s not a lot left for the 27-year-old to achieve below the WRC.

But for success to follow on the world stage, Marczyk fully appreciates where he needs to improve.

“I think it’s challenging for all of us,” Marczyk told DirtFish in Sardinia – his eighth WRC start and best overall finish of ninth.

“I would say young drivers, all of us have some performance, some speed, but all the time we have some retirements, crashes, super-rally or down on the pace, and all the time I’m trying to understand with my pacenotes my perception is correct to push.


“If not, I am trying to release a little bit. This is why our pace is not all the time consistent.

“But yeah, it’s quite tough to get this step to be a proper driver like the guys who are all the time on the good times.”

Particularly this year, there’s nowhere to hide in WRC2 given the quality (and quantity) of drivers starting every rally. Plenty of them are former works drivers with overall WRC stage names, podiums and even rally wins under their belts.

That’s an extremely tough environment for any young driver to throw themself into, but Marczyk has adapted well.

He hasn’t stunned with his pace but that can’t be expected so soon. Instead he’s banked a string of sensible finishes to build up his experience.

Mikołaj Marczyk

Marczyk’s WRC2 career to date:

Event Result
Croatia Rally 2022 9th WRC2 / 16th overall
Rally of Portugal 2022 4th WRC2 / 13th overall
Rally Italy Sardinia 2022 8th WRC2 / 15th overall
Rally Estonia 2022 15th WRC2 / 31st overall
Rally Finland 2022 6th WRC2 / 14th overall
Rally Spain 2022 10th WRC2 / 20th overall
Rally of Portugal 2023 9th WRC2 / 14th overall
Rally Italy Sardinia 2023 5th WRC2 / 9th overall

The Pole believes the biggest thing he personally needs to work on to close the gap to the frontrunners is his pacenotes, but also pointed to several other factors which make WRC demanding compared to what he’s been used to in the past.

“I would say that pacenotes are really important because it’s like that for every 10km stage I have one or two corners which are not proper, which means that on a 50km stage, it’s like quite a lot of places which are not possible to push all the time like that,” Marczyk explained.

“One more thing is that WRC events are also demanding, not a lot of place for sleep, for watching onboards, to understand the stages and when the focus is not perfect, it’s necessary to still have a good sensitivity of the car and I struggle a little about it on the Saturday and Sunday stages [in Sardinia].

“And I should work for some many things I would say. But I know what to do and I am trying to get better and better.”

That’s all anybody can ask of him when his WRC program resumes in Estonia next month.

Words:Luke Barry