Welcome to the FIA European Rally Championship – the ultimate training ground for young hopefuls aiming for the top. Providing a clear path of progression from national level to the world stage, the oldest international rally series in existence is also open to all-comers, meaning age is no barrier to competing.
Titles up for grabs
Drivers and co-drivers chase prestigious FIA titles in three divisions based on car performance: ERC1, ERC2 and ERC3. There is also the revamped FIA European Rally Championship for Teams, the ERC Ladies’ Trophy, plus the restructured FIA ERC Junior Championship, which ahead of the 2017 season has helped to grow the careers of 67 emerging talents.
Route to the top
Young prospects start out by enrolling into the ERC Junior Experience to learn vital skills and gain crucial knowledge alongside their national programmes, before entering the ERC Junior U27 Championship as their first major international campaign. ERC Junior U27 offers the first competitive step on the ERC’s ladder of opportunity for drivers born on or after 1 January 1990 and using R2 cars on Pirelli tyres. The eventual champion receives 100,000 euros to put towards an ERC Junior U28 campaign the following season when drivers, who must be born on or after 1 January 1989, graduate to R5 machinery. The ERC Junior U28 champion wins a prize drive in a 2016-specification World Rally Car on a European round of the WRC, which provides a platform to showcase their talent in a global arena, while gaining a vital understanding of rallying’s top tier. On the 2017 Rallye Monte-Carlo, eight of the top 10 finishers had experience of ERC events, while 12 drivers competing in the world championship this season in a factory team or with works backing have schooled in the ERC, proof of the key role it performs in creating a straightforward opportunity to step up.
Contested over eight events from April to October, the 2017 schedule has been structured in response to feedback from drivers and teams keen to control budgets. The calendar features four rallies on asphalt and four on gravel for the perfect balance of surfaces. And in a further cost-cutting measure, drivers will count their best six scores only.
ERC Junior Experience
Young rally drivers will continue to learn the vital skills needed to forge long-term careers in the sport through the ERC Junior Experience, which enters its second season in 2017. Devised by ERC promoter Eurosport Events and managed by All In Motion’s Evelien Deschuytter, an expert in equipping people with the attributes they need to succeed in their chosen field, the ERC Junior Experience consists of four training events held in conjunction with rounds of the ERC Junior Under 27 and ERC Junior Under 28 championships. The curriculum covers pacenote preparation, diet, physical training, social media dos and don’ts, car set-up, first aid response, tyre changing, sponsorship acquisition and driving technique on asphalt and gravel. Participants also undertake the reconnaissance for the ERC rallies in Gran Canaria, Czech Republic, Italy and Latvia at no charge and get a free registration for the 2018 ERC Junior U27 Championship. The ERC Junior Experience is open to drivers and co-drivers and more information including details of fees, registration procedure and other benefits is available from Evelien Deschuytter by emailing Evelien@allinmotion.be or by calling +32 473990342.
Provisional ERC Junior Experience 2017 schedule
Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, 1-3 May
Zlín, Czech Republic, 22-24 August
Rome, Italy, 12-14 September
Liepāja, Latvia, 3-5 October
ERC Teams’ Championship
The popular ERC Teams’ Championship undergoes significant changes for 2017. Rather than separate titles in ERC1, ERC2 and ERC3, there will now be one ERC Teams’ Championship with each outfit nominating a maximum of three cars, in either four- or two-wheel drive configuration or a combination of both, to score points on each event. The results of the two highest-placed drivers from a team count. And with points distributed according to the four- and two-wheel-drive classifications, a team could score a maximum of 50 points (25 points for 4WD, 25 points for 2WD) per event.
ERC to WRC
The ERC is the ultimate training ground for young hopefuls aiming for the top and provides a clear path of progression from national level to the world stage. The following are a selection of drivers with ERC experienced competing in the WRC:
Craig Breen: ERC runner-up 2015 > factory Citroën WRC driver 2017
Juho Hänninen: ERC champion 2012 > factory Toyota WRC driver 2017
Jan Kopecký: ERC champion 2013 > APRC champion 2014, factory ŠKODA WRC2 driver
Esapekka Lappi: ERC champion 2014 > factory Toyota WRC driver 2017
Jari-Matti Latvala: ERC driver 2003 > factory Toyota WRC driver 2017
Stéphane Lefebvre: ERC Junior champion 2014 > factory Citroën WRC driver 2017
Kris Meeke: ERC event winner 2009 > factory Citroën WRC driver 2017
Andreas Mikkelsen: ERC event winner 2012 > WRC event winner 2016
Thierry Neuville: ERC event winner 2011 > factory Hyundai WRC driver 2017
Hayden Paddon: ERC driver 2013 > factory Hyundai WRC driver 2017
Ott Tänak: ERC event winner 2014 > M-Sport WRC driver 2017
The ERC is broadcast on 81 channels around the world with extensive coverage on Eurosport including spot news, daily highlights, a rally review and magazine progamme.