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Rallies of 2017 overview

30 March-1 April

Azores Airlines Rallye

FIA EUROPEAN RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 1 OF 8
FIA ERC JUNIOR UNDER U27/ERC JUNIOR UNDER U28 ROUND 1 OF 6

THE RALLY IN 100 WORDS
Based on the archipelago’s largest island of São Miguel in the mid-Atlantic, the event turns 52 in 2017 and hosts the opening round of the new ERC season. The spectacular stages criss-cross breath-taking scenery and lush countryside and are characterised by their sandy surface and narrow and undulating nature. And because the stages are often no wider than the width of a car, there is simply no margin for error, particularly on the Sete Cidades test along the rim of a volcanic crater lake. Changeable weather is also a factor with conditions switching from sunshine to showers and fog patches.

WHAT HAPPENED IN 2016?
Ricardo Moura won his home round of the ERC for the first time in a dramatic late twist when a loose turbo pipe cost Alexey Lukyanuk’s Ford Fiesta vital power. Having claimed the lead on the last stage of leg one, Lukyanuk was gifted a 43-second margin when Kajetan Kajetanowicz’s similar car suffered a broken driveshaft on the first test of the final day. A spin on the following stage cost Lukyanuk 22.5s, but he remained 25.3s clear of Moura going into the final loop of three stages and on course for victory on his Azores debut. However, the turbo pipe issue on SS14 put Lukyanuk 42.7s behind Moura with two stages remaining. He cut that deficit almost in half on the penultimate test, setting up a finely-poised finale. In response, Moura pushed hard and won the final stage to become the first Azorean driver to win the event since 1971, much to the delight of the home fans. Kajetanowicz, who finished third behind Lukyanuk, led much of the first leg before a mistake on the famous Sete Cidades volcano stage on Friday, and the broken driveshaft then left him with only rear-wheel drive for most of Saturday morning. He regained a place on the podium when Ralfs Sirmacis retired with a broken steering arm on his ŠKODA Fabia R5 on Saturday’s second stage. Dávid Botka climbed from sixth to fourth on the very last stage to complete by far his best performance since stepping up to a Citroën DS3 R5 for 2016 after winning the ERC2 title in 2015. Diogo Gago marked his ERC Junior return with his maiden class victory as eventual champion Marijan Griebel crashed out, while Wojciech Chuchała fought back from a puncture – and a deficit of 1m12s – to win ERC2.

EVENT ESSENTIALS (all timings local and subject to change)
Starts:
14h30, Thursday 30 March, Podium, Praça Gonçalo Velho, Ponta Delgada
Finishes: 18h56, Saturday 1 April, Podium, Praça Gonçalo Velho, Ponta Delgada
Headquarters: Pavilhão do Mar, Portas do Mar, Av. Infante D. Henrique, 9500 Ponta Delgada
Service park: Portas do Mar
ERC appearances (since 2004 restructuring): 4 (2013-2016)
Stages: 16
Stage distance: 210.20 kilometres (106.84 kilometres leg one, 103.36 kilometres leg two)
Liaison: 460.63 kilometres
Total: 670.83 kilometres
Surface: Mainly gravel but with some Tarmac sections
City Show demonstration event featuring all drivers: 19h15-21h30, Wednesday 29 March, Av. Infante D. Henrique, Ponta Delgada

MEDIA INFORMATION (all timings local and subject to change)
Media accreditation/media centre location:
Pavilhão do Mar, Portas do Mar
Pre-event briefing (all photographers must attend): 15h00-15h30, Wednesday 29 March
Opening times: 15h30-22h00, Wednesday 29 March; 08h00-22h00 Thursday 30 March; 08h00-22h00 Friday 31 March; 08h00-until 23h00 Saturday 1 April

MEDIA EVENTS (all timings local and subject to change)

THURSDAY 30 MARCH
Free Practice (for priority drivers):
08h00-09h45, Remédios, Lagoa (3.12 kilometres)
Qualifying Stage (for priority drivers): 10h00, Remédios, Lagoa
Shakedown (for all drivers): 11h40-13h00, Remédios, Lagoa
Start order selection: 12h30, Portas do Mar
Photocall: 12h55, Portas do Mar
Pre-rally press conference: 13h00, Media Centre
Ceremonial start: 14h30, Podium, Praça Gonçalo Velho, Ponta Delgada

SATURDAY 1 APRIL
Post-rally press conference:
19h20, Podium, Praça Gonçalo Velho, Ponta Delgada
Television coverage: Daily highlights, rally review and Inside ERC magazine show on Eurosport and Eurosport Player, plus additional coverage on a number of other networks
ERC Radio: Live throughout the event at FIAERC.com or through the ERC app
Results, standings, live timing and text commentary: www.fiaerc.com
Rights-free images: Register at http://media.fiaerc.com
Event media contact: Rui Anjos, rui.anjos@azoresrallye.com, +351 962275549

PREVIOUS WINNERS
2016:
Ricardo Moura/António Costa (Ford Fiesta R5)
2015: Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Peugeot 208 T16)
2014: Bernardo Sousa/Hugo Magalhães (Ford Fiesta RRC)
2013: Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)
2012: Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (ŠKODA Fabia S2000)