Third time lucky for ERC Junior Rally Poland winner

Ola Nore put past issues aside to take a comprehensive win on the first round of this year's championship

FIA European Rally Championship 2023 Stop 3 – Mikolajki, Poland

False starts have been an unfortunate theme of Ola Nore Jr’s young rallying career, particularly in the European Rally Championship.

Whether it be testing accidents, season-ending crashes or even a co-driver falling ill, things just haven’t quite clicked together for the young Norwegian.

So when new co-driver Rune Eilertsen couldn’t find his time card at the end of Rally Poland’s first stage this year, Nore must have feared the worst.

But panic, mercifully, was averted.

Eilersten found the time card and Nore found some fortune, grabbing the lead of Junior ERC on the first forest stage and not looking back to defeat second-placed Norbert Maior by over a minute.

FIA European Rally Championship 2023 Stop 3 - Mikolajki, Poland

Making a mark in this year’s Junior ERC field is no easy feat, given 16 hungry youngsters all took the start in Poland.

But Nore was never troubled at the head of the pack in his Renault Clio Rally4, and attention therefore turned to what was going on behind.

German driver Timo Schulz had established himself as Nore’s chaser-in-chief but was forced out with a broken oil cooler aboard his Opel. Things only got worse when he lost two driveshafts on the powerstage.

But that initial retirement let the Peugeots of Maior and Swede Victor Hansen through into second and third places – positions they held onto for the remainder of the event.

Roberto Daprà came into the rally with expectations on his shoulders having contested both Rally Serras de Fafe and Rally Islas Canarias before the Junior ERC season began, but the Italian was only good for fourth ahead of Finnish hope and top Fiesta runner Miko Jalava.

Making his debut in the ERC and in a Corsa Rally4, Max McRae was a strong second after Friday’s superspecial but endured a complicated rally with an overshoot on Saturday morning and then electrical gremlins to battle through.

He secured sixth, ahead of Ireland’s Aoife Raftery and Italy’s Mattia Zanin.

Patrik Herczig, son of four-time Hungarian champion and ERC regular Norbert Herczig, was ninth ahead of the Spitalier brothers Patrice and Nicolas.

Of the 16 starters just 10 finished, but after transmission trouble on this event in 2021 and a terrifying crash that prematurely ended his season in 2022, it really was a case of third time lucky for Nore as he finally came to the fore.