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Opel Rally Ace Griebel is New European Champion

19 Sep 2016

  • Marijan Griebel triumphs with his Opel ADAM R2 in Junior category
  • Griebel snatches title from teammate Ingram at heart-stopping finale in Latvia
  • Griebel is first German European Rally champion in fifteen years
Opel News - Opel Rally Ace Griebel is New European Champion

Rüsselsheim.  Marijan Griebel is the ERC Junior 2016 champion. In a thrilling finale that even master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock couldn’t have staged more dramatically, the Opel works driver kept his cool under immense pressure at the Rally Liepāja in Latvia. It was already clear before the event that only victory at this extremely challenging gravel rally with an equally strong field would secure Griebel the European Champion title. The 27 year-old from Hahnweiler, Germany did what he had to do. After 13 special stages and more than 200 special stage kilometers, the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team driver in a works ADAM R2 with co-driver Pirmin Winklhofer (21, from Pocking) at his side was a whole 4.7 seconds ahead of Miko-Ove Niinemäe. But the Estonian was retroactively given 20 penalty seconds, pushing him back into third place behind Finn Alex Forsström in a customer ADAM R2.

Opel News - Exciting finale: Marijan Griebel managed to pip teammate Chris Ingram to the European Junior Rally Championship title

With this, Griebel surpassed his teammate Chris Ingram, who went into the finale as points leader, by seven points in the final standings for which only the four best scores from the six-round season count. This makes him the first German European Rally champion since Armin Kremer in 2001 – the longtime mentor and supporter of the new Junior champion.


With this triumph, Griebel also stands for the convincing and coherent joint promotion concept of ADAC and Opel in rallying: in 2013 he advanced to the works team as junior champion in the ADAC Opel Rallye Cup and the following season he captured the German Rally Championship division title in a 190 hp ADAM R2. In 2015 Griebel finished the FIA ERC Junior in third pace before celebrating the biggest success of his career this season.

Opel News - Time to party: Marijan Griebel celebrates his victory in the European Junior Rally Championship

The new ERC Junior champion could hardly control his emotions at the finish line. “I cannot put into words how I’m feeling”, said an elated Marijan Griebel. “The pressure of having to win here, and on top of that against this incredibly tough competition, was unbelievable. We knew we had to all-out attack in every stage and could not make even the tiniest mistake. And it was so close: we had to give it everything we had down to the last meter – and then we were just on pins and needles waiting to see if the time was enough. I still can’t really believe it. I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to this fantastic success – the entire team from Opel Motorsport, the service crew from Holzer, the ADAC and ADAC Stiftung Sport, my co-drivers Stefan Kopczyk and Pirmin Winklhofer and my mentor and friend Armin Kremer.”

Opel News - Unlucky ending: A problem with the electronics forced the ADAM R2 driven by Opel works driver Chris Ingram into retirement

In contrast, dejection abounded for teammates Chris Ingram (22, from Manchester) and Elliott Edmondson (21, from Milton Keynes), who still had an excellent shot at the title on Friday evening when they were only seven tenths of a second behind leg winner Griebel. Then on the second day the Britons had bad luck: electronical issues stopped their ADAM R2 during special stage 11. Ingram showed class: “I cannot even describe how disappointed I am. But I have to congratulate Marijan on his fantastic performance. And I thank everyone who made my first year as an Opel works driver such a special one in my career.”


The performance by Julius Tannert (26, from Zwickau) and Jennifer Thielen (32, from Moestroff) was eclipsed by the duell for the title. The German-Luxembourgian duo was in striking distance of their brand colleagues on Friday evening in third place, but lost the chance for a podium finish with a rollover in special stage 10. Tannert managed to bring the ADAM R2 over the finish line in Liepāja, but better than sixth place was no longer in the cards. The ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team driver took fourth place in the final ERC Junior standings.

Opel News - Exciting finale: Marijan Griebel managed to pip teammate Chris Ingram to the European Junior Rally Championship title

Opel Motorsport Director Jörg Schrott was full of praise for his protégés: “What Marijan delivered under this brutal pressure cannot be commended highly enough. He never stopped fighting even when things weren’t going his way. He earned this title. I’m sorry for Chris, but he had a great season and can be proud of himself. And Julius delivered some strong performances in his first season as an Opel works driver and rounded off a great team result with his fourth-place finish. I am also really happy with the performance of our ADAM R2 customer teams – like second place for Alex Forsström here in Latvia and third place in the ERC standings for Lukasz Pieniazek. Four Opels in the first four places in the FIA ERC Junior are absolute proof of our ADAM R2’s strong performance!”


“Congratulations to Marijan Griebel and to the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team on winning the ERC Junior title”, said ADAC Sport President Hermann Tomczyk, lauding the first German European Championship title holder in 15 years. “For the second year in a row, the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team won the ERC Junior with a young talent from the ADAC Opel Rallye Cup. This achievement is also a distinction for Opel and ADAC’s joint promotion of young talent in German rally sport.”