Reigning European Rally Champion Chris Ingram will return to competition for the first time since winning the ERC title last year at next weekend’s Canary Islands Rally.
Ingram defeated 2018 champion and this year’s points leader Alexey Lukyanuk to the crown last year after a dramatic final stage on Rally Hungary where both punctured.
His success came despite missing out on the ERC1 Junior title to Filip Mareš by 0.3 seconds; a title that would’ve rewarded him €100,000 to put towards the remainder of his ERC season. Instead, Ingram benefited from a crowdfunding campaign to complete the season and ultimately become champion.
Budget concerns, compounded by COVID-19, have stunted Ingram’s plan to compete in WRC2 and the ERC this year in a Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo. But he will make his first rally start of 2020 on Rally Islas Canarias with the Toksport team he won the title with, albeit with a less competitive Renault Clio RSR Rally5.
Ole Jr Nore – who scored his first ERC3 Junior podium on Rally Hungary – will be Ingram’s team-mate with Rachele Somaschini, who partnered Nore in Hungary, advised to avoid flying travel on medical grounds due to her cystic fibrosis.
“While all my focus has been on setting up a proper program for 2021, it’s a great opportunity to get back behind the wheel on a rally which I really love,” Ingram said.
“After a year out of a car I am really pleased to be back with the team and it will be great to support Toksport to improve the Clio ready for the upgrade to full Rally4 spec for 2021.”
Lukyanuk in co-driver switch
Two-time Canary Islands Rally winner Lukyanuk will be reunited with long-term co-driver Alexey Arnautov next weekend in his Citroën C3 R5.
Arnautov had made way for Dmitriy Eremeev at the start of the year and the partnership got off to a winning start back in July on Rally di Roma.
However, things turned sour on Rally Hungary when Eremeev checked the pair into a stage five minutes early, handing them an instant five-minute penalty which cost them a shot at victory. Eremeev was visibly sobbing on one of the road sections after his mistake, and Lukyanuk wasn’t impressed by the blunder.
While Arnautov has been confirmed for the penultimate round of the ERC season, there has been no confirmation as to whether his return will be a permanent one beyond Canary Islands Rally.
Lukyanuk currently leads the ERC standings by 27 points over Oliver Solberg and could theoretically wrap up his second European title next weekend.