Czech motorsport has its own Ester Ledecká! Petr Semerád wins in the rally and in TCR Eastern Europe
Petr Semerád is winning in both rally and circuit races at the European level this year and experts view him as one of the biggest Czech hopes in these, as seen by many, incompatible disciplines. The third event of this year’s TCR Eastern Europe series confirmed the versatility of this young racer, who is only twenty-one years old. In Saturday’s race in Poznań, Poland, he led from start to finish on Saturday and finished second on Sunday at the Tor Poznań circuit in Poland.
Motorsport fans know the Semerád family clan very well. The youngest representative, Petr, moved to the European circuits after winning the Prague Rally Sprint and is excelling in the TCR Eastern Europe championship. He set the fastest time in Friday’s qualifying last weekend at Poznań, didn’t let a single rival through during the entire race on Saturday, and won the race with a lead of approximately 6 seconds. After that, he drew number six, which meant that he would be starting from sixth position in Sunday’s race. During the battle for positions, he found himself off of the track for a moment in the first lap and dropped into eighth place. However, for the next 25 minutes, he kept moving forward and fought his way up to second place. The season is now exactly half-way through and Petr Semerád holds second position overall after one win, three second places, and one fourth place.
Petr Semerád drives for the Hyundai / Janík Motorsport team, which, thanks to the excellent results of second driver Václav Janík, leads the team standings. At the same time, Petr is in the lead of the Junior category.
“I already knew during training and qualifying that the track in Poznań suited me. In some sections, it vaguely reminded me of my beloved discipline – rally. Actually, I have to admit that when I got the offer to drive a TCR car, I hesitated for a while because, for me, the narrow roads, the constantly changing conditions, and the co-driver next to me are the most important things in motorsport. Circuits are quite different from that point of view,” smiles the youngest Semerád. “Of course, I don’t want to play down the latest results. The victory in Poznań means a lot to me and I’m happy that I’m doing well in the rally and on the circuits. Had it not been for a withdrawal in a previous event due to a technical issue, it could have looked even better. I am looking forward to the remaining three weekends, most of all to the last two races on my home circuit in Most, which I know well.”
“We had originally been negotiating with Václav Janík’s team about the possibility of starting a foreign competitor at Hungaroring, however no agreement was reached and Petr Semerád immediately came forward as a substitute. Despite the fact that he has recently been exclusively dedicated to rallying, I was convinced of his circuit capabilities and he himself welcomed the opportunity to start. The first race weekend was enough to confirm our decision, and now, after Poznań, no one can doubt it,” summarizes Josef Křenek, who is head of the ESET RaceStar project, which supports young talented racers from the Central European region and, at the same time, promoter of TCR Eastern Europe.
“We knew that Petr was one of the best competitors, but he still amazed us all with his performance. For me and team owner Mr. Janík, it was clear after the first race weekend that we had to continue. We are now in the middle of the season and Petr has a real chance at attaining an overall victory. We cannot miss that opportunity,” adds Křenek.
The Hyundai / Janík Motorsport team participates in the TCR Eastern Europe races with two Hyundai i30 TCR cars. Those models represent the first step taken by the Hyundai Motorsport division into the world of circuit racing. The TCR series was chosen by the manufacturer because it is one of the fastest-growing categories in touring car racing. Each car has a two-litre, four-cylinder engine with a maximum output of 350 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and a torque of 450 Nm at 3,500 rpm. They have front-wheel drive via a six-speed sequential gearbox. These racing cars have a minimum prescribed weight of 1265 kilos, including a driver.
Petr Semerád has already achieved a number of successes. At just 16 years of age, he won the Central European Zone championship with a Formula 4 car. A year later, even before the law permitted him to obtain a driver’s license, he dominated the Czech top rally scene in the two-wheel drive category, winning the overall classification in two-thirds of all season races and became the youngest-ever champion of the Czech Rally Sprint. In 2019, he won the Zlatý Volant award as Talent of the Year.
Czech motorsport fans will be able to see Petr in events on domestic tracks, the first happening in just a few days at Rally Bohemia in Mladá Boleslav, where he will race alongside co-driver Danny Persein from July 8th to 10th in a Škoda Fabia Rally2 EVO with the Topp-Cars Rally Team. Other options are at the traditional Barum Rally, and then at the last two TCR Eastern Europe races, which will be held on the first weekend of September at Most.