11 June 2015: Newsletter #24/15

Breen increases lead after epic ERC hat-trick

Craig Breen has increased his lead in the FIA European Rally Championship after winning his third event in a row on the SATA Rallye Açores. The Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16 driver is now 14 points ahead of Kajetan Kajetanowicz, who had an excellent run in the Azores. After an extremely close battle with Breen, the Polish driver took his LOTOS Rally Team Fiesta R5 to a magnificent second place finish, beating top Portuguese drivers like seven-time Azorean rally champion Ricardo Moura (Ford Fiesta R5) and two-time Rallye Açores winner Bruno Magalhães (Peugeot 208 T16). Kajetanowicz is 48 points ahead of third-placed Robert Consani (Citroën DS3 R5).

Spectacular footage from the Azores

This year’s SATA Rallye Açores lived up to its reputation as one of rallying’s most spectacular events. Glorious sunshine over the signature Sete Cidades stage in particular gave spectators and the Eurosport helicopter the perfect conditions to follow the cars, as the extraordinary bravery and skill of the ERC drivers took centre stage. It wouldn’t be Rallye Açores without a bit of fog and rain, and this year’s event had that too, but the June date certainly helped show the Azores in all its wonderful glory.

Loix to give ŠKODA Fabia R5 its ERC debut

Freddy Loix will give the new ŠKODA Fabia R5 its FIA European Rally Championship debut on this month’s Kenotek by CID LINES Ypres Rally. The Belgian ace has won the Ypres Rally nine times in 17 starts, and will once again start as favourite.

Quality ERC entry heads to Ypres

A magnificent entry has been received for the Kenotek by CID LINES Ypres Rally, round five of the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship. With entries now closed, the provisional list is with the FIA for approval – and we can reveal it includes four Peugeot 208 T16s (Craig Breen, Bruno Magalhães, Stéphane Lefebvre and Kris Princen), five Citroën DS3 R5s (Kevin Abbring, Bryan Bouffier, Cédric Cherain, Vincent Verschueren and Florent Honney) and five ŠKODA Fabia S2000s (Jaroslav Orsák, Petter Kristiansen, Antonín Tlusťák, Jaromír Tarabus and Martin McCormack). Ford hasn’t won the Ypres Rally since Patrick Snijers (Escort Cosworth) in 1994, and the Blue Oval’s hopes this year lie with Sam and Josh Moffett (Fiesta RRC), Euan Thorburn (Fiesta S2000) and Didier Duquesne, Davy Vanneste and Bernd Casier (Fiesta R5s). Add in Freddy Loix (ŠKODA Fabia R5), and picking a winner is impossible! The provisional entry list is available at: http://www.ypresrally.com/en/content/competitors

Three-wheel Blūms becomes an internet sensation

Emīls Blūms says that he has become an “internet sensation” after making his FIA European Rally Championship debut on the SATA Rallye Açores! The 23-year old Latvian driver was having a good ERC Junior debut in his LMT Autosport Academy Fiesta R2, until be lost his right front wheel on the Grupo Marques 2 superspecial (SS14). Luckily service followed, and with he and co-driver Reinis Vilsons trying to counteract the weight, they managed to get the car back to their mechanics in Ponta Delgada. Blūms did incur a 1m50s penalty for arriving late into service and had an additional 5m penalty from the Stewarts, but he did finish the event and scored his first ERC Junior point!

“It was definitely a very tough rally, something you can never ever experience in the Baltic States,” said Blūms. “I know I am now an internet sensation with my three wheel drive to the service area, but I did not come here to make my name like that. I came to test my abilities, and unfortunately the speed just was not there. So I have to work hard over the next couple of months to become faster. I would sincerely like to thank my mechanics for doing a great job in the service area and putting the car back together with no time penalties for leaving service. What I can say is that Rallye Açores definitely is a rally to come back to, because it’s the most beautiful and most challenging rally I have ever competed in.”

Q&A: Chris Ingram

Chris Ingram scored his first ERC Junior victory of his career, and won the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy, on SATA Rallye Açores – although he had to win a tough fight against Diogo Gago, Steve Røkland, Emil Bergkvist, Ralfs Sirmacis and a bowl of spaghetti bolognese! fiaerc.com caught up with the Peugeot UK-backed 208 R2 driver at the finish of the event.

How tough was scoring your maiden ERC Junior win on SATA Rallye Açores?

“This year’s Rally Azores was such a tough event, a lot more difficult than I’d ever imagined it would be. There were six or seven drivers who where really quick, setting top times and with a serious chance of winning, so it was a really good fight. It just goes to show how competitive the ERC Junior championship is when you have so many drivers fighting for victory.”

What part of this win gives you the most pleasure?

“We came here to win, and I’m delighted with not only our result, but our overall performance throughout the three days of competition. Even when we had a massive off on the Sete Cidades stage, as soon as we knew we didn’t have a puncture, we were flat out again. I really had a lot of confidence in myself and the car, to push hard on every stage, yet without taking unnecessary risks. I’m absolutely delighted to win in the Azores, and I want to thank my dad for getting me here and for Peugeot UK for having belief in me. This victory is for them. This win is the start of a new beginning of success.”

How difficult was the final day for you mentally and physically?

“The night before the final day of competition was awful, as I was up all night with food poisoning. I really didn’t think I was going to be able to start the next morning, because I felt so weak. But I kept on pushing. We increased our lead to 43.7 seconds, but then the final afternoon loop of stages was a real struggle, and the heat and fatigue were starting to get to me. I felt so ill that I almost fell asleep queuing for the start of SS15, and Steve Røkland took over 22 seconds off me in 12 kilometres, so I knew that I just had to pull myself together and use energy I didn’t think I had if I was going to hold on and win.”