Reigning British rally champion Osian Pryce will make his debut in the FIA European Rally Championship driving a Škoda Fabia Rally2 on at least three rounds of this year’s international series.
The 30-year-old Welshman will start his campaign at Rally Poland (20-21 May) – an event he has done three times before when it was a round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
Osian (above) will then contest Tet Rally Liepāja (17-18 June), returning to compete in Latvia for the first time since 2010, having made his rallying debut on the country’s Rally Kalnamuiza as a 16-year-old.
He’ll then contest the Royal Rally of Scandinavia (7-8 July), and while Pryce has contested several winter rallies and worked as a rally instructor at the Below Zero Ice Driving Experience, this will be his first summer rally in Sweden.
Pryce will be partnered this year by the vastly experienced Belgian co-driver Stéphane Prévot, while the Fabia Rally2 will be run by MAPO Motorsport, a team owned by former WRC works driver, S-WRC world champion and five-time Spanish rally champion Xevi Pons.
And having won the 2022 British Rally Championship using Michelin tyres, Pryce will participate in the ERC as an official Michelin Talent Factory driver – which is an incentive designed to help regional talent step up to European level.
“Contesting the FIA European Rally Championship has always been an ambition of mine, and after winning the British title last year I was doubly keen to embark on a new adventure,” says Pryce.
“We’ve taken our time to put together a nice programme of events, with a good team and a good car. We’ll contest three gravel rallies in three months and that will hopefully allow us to get back up to speed and settled in.
“Rally Poland will be my first rally for seven months and it will be a serious wake-up call that should set us up well for the following two rounds. I’ve done that rally three times when it was a round of the World Rally Championship, and I’m looking forward to going back there for the first time since 2017. Rally Poland has always been one of my favourite events on the calendar, with great roads and a warm atmosphere every year.
“I made my competition debut as a sixteen-year-old in Latvia, so I’m very much looking forward to returning for Rally Liepāja – while Rally Scandinavia will be my first summer gravel rally in Sweden.
“Everything is new for 2023, as I’ve never rallied a Škoda Fabia Rally2 before and it will be the first time that I’ve been co-driven by Stéphane Prévot. We were going to do a rally together in Sweden a few years ago, but the event was cancelled because of Covid. We were then going to do a rally together in Kenya, but just before we were due to fly out I broke my shoulder in a mountain bike accident. It’s a case of third time lucky for me and Stéphane, and he brings a vast amount of experience and knowledge into the car and I’m hoping I can learn a lot from him too.
“The programme is for three European rallies. I’d love to do a fourth because that would mean we’ve done half of the 2023 European Rally Championship, but let’s see how the first three events go first! My focus is quality not quantity.”
For his first ERC campaign, Pryce is supported by Michelin Motorsport, as a part of the Talent Factory programme, Demon Tweeks, Bell Racing helmets, OMP race suits, DL Jones Pontrobert Ltd (coach and taxi hire), Hills Campervans (campervan sales and hire), MotoFit (performance training) and his own family-run specialist building firm G+M Pryce.