Toksport WRT – which runs WRC2 championship leader Pontus Tidemand and ran Chris Ingram to the 2019 European Rally Championship title – will return to the ERC on next weekend’s Rally Hungary with a pair of Renault Clio RSR Rally5s.
While its current WRC2 pilots Tidemand and Eyvind Brynildsen drive a Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo, two Clio RSR Rally5 cars from Renault Sport will be fielded on the final three rounds of this year’s ERC for youngsters Ola Jr Nore and Rachele Somaschini.
Rally Hungary will be Toksport’s first ERC rally since the same event last year when Ingram claimed his title. Both Nore and Somaschini will score points in the ERC3 Junior category which is currently led by Ken Torn. Nore is an ERC rookie, but Somaschini has started both Rally di Roma and Rally Liepaja this season in a Peugeot 208 Rally4.
This new chapter for Toksport has been in planning for several months and had been intended to begin at the start of the ERC season and the Azores Rallye before coronavirus forced a new plan.
The team will have official support from Renault Sport with plans already afoot for the cars to be upgraded to Rally4 specification in 2021 when that car is launched. By then it should be the fourth Rally4 car on the market, with M-Sport’s Fiesta and Peugeot’s 208 already available and a new Opel Corsa expected to be homologated in December.
The Clio Rally5 was first seen internationally on this year’s Rally Monte Carlo when it ran as a course car, and it has been driven in several national rallies since as the specified vehicle for the Clio Trophy in France. But Rally Hungary will mark the first time the car appears on the entry list of an international rally.
“We are very pleased to see the Clio Rally5 debut in the ERC,” said Benoît Nogier, Renault Sport customer racing director. “Almost one year ago we started our cooperation with Toksport, which became in 2020 our official distributor in Turkey.
“From the start they have been convinced that the new Clio Rally5 represents the best opportunity for young drivers to build a strong experience before fighting at higher levels. Rally Hungary is a first step for Toksport as we are preparing altogether for the arrival of the Clio Rally4 in 2021.”
Nore and co-driver Veronica Engen – who sat alongside Petter Solberg on the Volkswagen Polo R5’s first ever rally in 2018 – will make the step-up from the Norwegian national championship, with Nore admitting “it was the right time to try ERC.”
Somarschnini meanwhile will acclimatize herself to a new car and team that will help her promote her #CorrerePerUnRespiro campaign that raises awareness of cystic fibrosis; a condition Somarschini suffers from.
She therefore admitted competing in Hungary is “far more risky than for other people” but the event’s COVID-19 precautions have made her “feel right and professional to be there.”