Avcioglu goes back to go forward in ERC
Turkish talent Orhan Avcioglu will be taking a step back to go forward when he makes his long-awaited return to the FIA European Rally Championship on Rally di Roma Capitale next week.
Avcioglu was an ever-present in the 2018 ERC as he made his full-time step up to international level in a Toksport WRT ŠKODA Fabia R5.
He had planned a second season-long ERC campaign at R5 level in 2019 only for funding issues to dictate otherwise. But as part of ongoing efforts to return to the championship’s top tier for 2020, Avcioglu will contest the all-asphalt event in Italy from 19-21 July, although he will step down from ERC1 to the more accessible ERC3 category in a Peugeot 208 R2.
“We are back, albeit we are missing a rear diff and a turbo, but it's okay,” the Istanbul resident said. “We are super-happy and very grateful to Toksport WRT for providing this opportunity. The plan is to do the remaining four rounds of the championship in the ERC3 class. This will give us the best opportunity to be prepared for a full-time return in 2020.
“The 2018 season was a good learning curve for us to get to know all the rallies in the ERC. The plan was to build on that experience this year. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to find financial partners to fund our R5 project so we are happy to announce that we will start Rally di Roma Capitale, one of my favourite events, with a Peugeot 208 R2 in the ERC3 class.”
A multiple 2WD class title winner in Turkey and the 2017 FIA Balkan Rally Trophy champion, the 33-year-old rallied two-wheel-drive machinery up until 2013 and in fact started his career with Peugeot power in 2005. He scored overall FIA European Rally Championship points on five out of eight starts in 2018, including a season-best fifth place on the Cyprus Rally.
Avcioglu also has previous experience of Rally di Roma Capitale, finishing P12 overall and P10 in ERC1 on the event last season.
Orhan Avcioglu’s planned ERC3 schedule
Rally di Roma Capitale (Italy), 19-21 July, asphalt
Barum Czech Rally Zlín, 16-18 August, asphalt
Cyprus Rally, 27-29 September, gravel
Rally Hungary, 8-10 November, asphalt