It would be fair to say Euro RX3 has been a bit of an Audi benefit in recent seasons, with the last four champions all piloting the German manufacturer’s machinery, but one man who refused to lay down without a fight in 2021 was Škoda star Jan Černý – and over the course of the forthcoming campaign, he is aiming to pip his rivals to the top step of the podium.
Černý started out in rallycross before turning his focus to rallying, returning to the dual-surface discipline in 2020 in the FIA European Rallycross Championship’s Super1600 (now Euro RX3) category. Last year, the Czech ace contested all five rounds of the series behind the wheel of a PAJR S.R.O. Škoda Citigo, proving to be the only driver capable of consistently challenging the all-conquering Volland Racing Audis en route to fourth in the title table.
Ranking inside the top four in the intermediate classification on all-bar one occasion – highlighted by an excellent second place in the standings at Höljes – Černý progressed through to the final three times out of five, and would arguably have finished higher than his season-best of fourth in Sweden but for a technical issue in the semi-final in Barcelona and damage at the same stage at Montalegre.
He took the chequered flag third at Spa-Francorchamps, only to subsequently pick up a penalty for first corner contact, but he is determined to use that disappointment – as well as all the experience and expertise that he and PAJR S.R.O. gained over the past two seasons – to spur him on to even greater success in 2022.
“Over the last three years, PAJR Motorsport and LMP Racing have done a lot of work and we have moved our little Citigo forward,” the 31-year-old reflects. “I also gained a lot of experience on European tracks last season, which I will definitely build upon this year.
“The Škoda Citigo is a pure race car, lightweight with a naturally-aspirated engine producing approximately 240 horsepower. In rallycross, we have more freedom in the regulations than I’m used to in rallying where I compete in the WRC3 class, and we look for gaps where the car could be accelerated in some way.
“I felt much better with the car during testing over the winter, and now I’m excited to challenge my rivals on-track. I’m definitely looking forward to the first race at Nyirád, where the gravel is fast and the track suits me. I have only seen Norway on video and driven it on a professional simulator. We tested in Sweden after the race there last year, which will definitely be beneficial, and we were very competitive in Portugal while the Nürburgring will be a completely new experience for me.
“I’m feeling positive, and I won’t lie – I would like to win a round and attack for a top three championship finish. As a team, we know where our strengths and weaknesses are and what areas we need to work on, and while beating the Audis will not be easy, I believe that our small car from a small country can stand up to the giants in Euro RX3 this season. I have loved this kind of motorsport since I was a child, and I will put my heart and 100 per cent of my energy into every single fight this season.”
One ace up Černý’s sleeve is that he has a new car waiting in the wings in the shape of a fourth-generation Škoda Fabia, which he will debut at some stage during the campaign. Once the build and development is complete, the Fabia will pick up the reins from the Citigo – and, the Příbram native hopes, provide him with the package he needs to turn the tables on the Audi contingent.
“We’ve collected a lot of data over the last two seasons,” he acknowledges, “but we also feel we have pushed the Citigo as far as it can go and reached the limit of its potential. The Fabia has a much larger wheelbase which should make things easier, and we will try to transfer all the knowledge that the LMP Racing team has gained during its time in motorsport, particularly in rallycross.
“I’m excited to see what we can achieve with the new Fabia; I believe it will be another great example of Czech motorsport on the world stage because, like with the Citigo, we will have something unique again – and I’m confident it will prove to be a significant step forward, too...”
The 2022 FIA European Rallycross Championship will get underway at Nyirád in Hungary on 21-22 May. Tickets are on sale here