Jon Armstrong and Brian Hoy will compete on the second round of the 2022 European Rally Championship, the Azores Rally. The Fermanagh duo, who won the Junior section of Rally Sweden, will continue to man a Ford Fiesta Rally3 in Azores.
Armstrong faces a gravel-heavy World Rally Championship campaign this year. Junior WRC’s inclusion of Rally Portugal and Acropolis Rally Greece in its 2022 calendar was a key factor in Armstrong’s assault on the Azores.
“I really want to improve myself on gravel in a four-wheel-drive car,” admitted the 2021 Junior WRC runner-up, “especially on technical gravel stages.
“I did some fast events last year like Rally Poland but it is good to get more time in the car on these tight and technical stages. It should set us up nicely for Portugal and Greece.”
Rally Poland was Armstrong’s first ERC outing since 2015, winning the ERC Junior category on his Rally3 debut. His Rally3 winning streak continued last month when he won Rally Sweden’s Junior WRC section alongside Hoy.
The 27-year-old has been to Azores once before, in a Peugeot 208 R2. The eye-opening experience gives Armstrong a good idea of the challenge that lies ahead at the end of March.
“The rally was probably one of the toughest I have ever done. The stages are so difficult in Azores; technical, narrow, with a lot of elevation changes.
“You are always going up or downhill so you need to be on the ball with that. There are a lot of tight, short corners that can tempt you into carrying too much speed.”
As always, the DiRT Rally games designer is thinking of every area he can maximise the value he gets out of the ERC drive.
“It should be an important learning process for me. We’ll see what the recce is like and how the pacenotes go.
“We’ll maybe learn some new things from that side of things. It will be good practice for Brian and I because the pacenotes will be quite busy through the stages. It will let us see if there is too much or too little information in the notes.
“I’m really grateful that I can take this opportunity and I’m really grateful for everyone who has made it happen.”
The Azores Rally takes place on 26-27 March and will be live streamed on WRC+. Armstrong and Hoy will compete in ERC’s second tier, ERC3 which is for Rally3 cars. There are three Rally3 cars taking part in ERC’s opening round, Rally Serras de Fafe Felgueiras.
Photos courtesy of Junior WRC