The GT86 CS-R3 made a note-worthy debut in the European Rally Championship (ERC), with second place in its class at the hands of Luca Rossetti and co-driver Eleanora Mori on the Barum Rally Zlin.
The rear-wheel-drive car, which has already won its class on national events in Germany and Britain, finished as runner-up in the competitive ERC3 category, missing out by less than 18 seconds following an impressive finale.
Luca drove the car for the first time on Tuesday during a short pre-event test, so made a cautious start as he adjusted to the characteristics of the CS-R3. After six stages, the #23 car was classified fifth, but that would soon change.
A stage win on stage eight showed the potential of car and driver, with both performing consistently quickly. Another quickest time on the following stage proved that point and brought second place into sight.
That battle proved captivated on Sunday, when consecutive second fastest times saw the CS-R3 run second for the first time. As the rally drew to a close, stage wins on 13 and 14 not only earned second place but brought class victory into Luca’s sights.
A tense final stage saw Luca claw back time on his rival for victory, Chris Ingram in his Opel Adam, but fall just short. The CS-R3 took second place, 17.8secs behind Ingram and 5.5secs ahead of third-placed Lukasz Pieniazek in his Opel Adam.
Nico Ehlert, Principal Engineer Customer Motorsport, said: “It was a very tough battle throughout the weekend, fighting for every second. Luca drove very well and was getting faster and faster with every stage as he got more confident with the car. Along with Luca and Eleanora, the team performed very well on this rally despite tough conditions with temperatures consistently above 35°C. We are proud of this podium, especially considering it was achieved against a high level of competition.”