12 February 2015: Newsletter #07/15

Seven happy drivers win 20,000 Euro ERC prize money in Latvia

Seven very happy FIA European Rally Championship drivers received a total of 20,000 Euros after the finish of Rally Liepāja, as more of Eurosport Events’ 200,000 Euro 2015 privateer prize fund was distributed. Each driver received their cheque from ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley at the post-event press conference.

Siim Plangi received the biggest cheque for €7000, which he says might allow him to add SATA Rallye Açores to his programme.

“As we are doing a part-time calendar of ERC events, these 7000 Euros definitely helps a lot,” said the 22-year old Estonian driver. “If it doesn’t cover all, then it covers most of this rally’s budget. I really appreciate it. We are actually now thinking of doing the Portugal event, but for sure you can see us at our home event in Estonia. With an Evo X over there, it should be sufficiently fast to even challenge Craig [Breen].”

The full list of drivers who shared the 20,000 Euros – which is awarded at each round of the ERC – at Rally Liepāja were:

Siim Plangi….€7000 Dominykas Butvilas….€5000 Mārtiņš Svilis….€3000 Robert Consani….€2000 Jānis Vorobjovs….€1000 Steve Røkland….€1000 Ralfs Sirmacis….€1000

Fantastic start to the ERC Junior Championship

The 2015 ERC Junior Championship got off to a fantastic start in Latvia, with 16 aspiring young drivers from 10 different countries battling closely for honours on Rally Liepāja.

The competition, commitment and camaraderie of this year’s ERC Junior collective is truly outstanding, and it produced one of the closet battles of the weekend. Emil Bergkvist eventually came out as winner in his ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team Adam R2 – the 20-year old Swede also finished an extraordinary sixth overall! Norway’s Steve Røkland finished second, 30.1s behind in his family-run Peugeot 208 R2, while Ralfs Sirmacis finished third in his Sports Racing Technologies 208. Following his magnificent performance on day one, when he ran in an unfavourable up front road position, Sirmacis was rewarded with the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy.

While drivers with winter rally driving experience filled the first ERC Junior podium of the season, Northern Ireland’s Jon Armstrong finished fifth on his snow rally debut in his 208 – one place behind Sweden’s Mattias Adielsson, who rolled his Peugeot, but still finished fourth!

As drivers now prepare for the asphalt lanes of the Circuit of Ireland, there is no doubt this year’s ERC Junior Championship is going to be one of the most exciting title fights of 2015.

New ERC merchandise shop opens on-line

The new FIA European Rally Championship official merchandise shop is now open on-line.

A cool range of specially designed adult t-shirts, hoodies, caps and woolly hats – together with a great line of children’s clothing, fun accessories and fan packs – is now available to buy.

Discover the full range at www.fiaerc-shop.com.

Kajetanowicz is the ERC Ice Master

Kajetan Kajetanowicz is the 2015 ERC Ice Master, thanks to winning the Internationale Jännerrallye powered by GaGa Energy and picking up day points on Rally Liepāja.

The LOTOS Rally Team Fiesta R5 driver also returned home from Latvia with a five point lead in the FIA European Rally Championship. After two rounds, Kajetanowicz has scored 45 points, Craig Breen (Peugeot 208 T16) and Robert Consani (Peugeot 207 S2000) are tied in second on 40 points, with Alexey Lukyanuk (Ford Fiesta R5) next up with 32 points.

The full ERC points after round two can be found at www.fiaerc.com/standings.

High ERC praise form Liepāja City Council

Mr. Uldis Sesks, the Chairman of Liepāja City Council, paid tribute to Rally Liepāja, following the highly successful running of round two of the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship.

The ERC has always received a very warm welcome in Latvia, and this year’s event ran like clockwork, despite the challenging winter weather conditions.

“The drivers have all performed magnificently, on conditions that have never been seen before on this rally,” said Mr. Sesks. “The surface conditions were changing by the hour, sometimes by the minute, and that was also unexpected. Really a big thank you to Raimonds Strokšs and his crew, because the event was organised perfectly, and also a thank you to Eurosport. And finally, I am terribly sorry about the weather, because it really could have been better!”

Q&A: Driver Craig Breen

Craig Breen won round two of the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship by 1m 40.7s in his Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16. We caught up with the 25-year old Irishman at the finish of Rally Liepāja in Latvia.

You’ve been on the podium twice in Latvia but finally you’re on the top step. How happy are you?
“Very happy – I’m always happy, but today I’m very happy! It was a really good weekend for us. The conditions were very difficult. Yesterday we had a lot of rain and all the snow that had been collected in the stages over the last weeks melted within a couple of hours, so it was really tricky. Today we had the opposite, a lot of snow that came during the night and again in the day, which was blown by the wind and made visibility very difficult. It was quite a unique rally.”

Two of your big rivals, Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Alexey Lukyanuk, both hit trouble – did that make it harder or easier and were you confident that you had the pace to beat them had they not stopped?
“I was 100% that we had the pace. The biggest margin that we lost a stage by, when all three of us were still fighting, was 0.7 seconds, but we weren’t doing anything stupid. There was a strong pace on the first stage, but when I saw the stage time of Alexey I knew that it was possible to beat him. I was confident starting the second stage, and when I got the message that he had stopped, we just did enough to keep ahead of Kajto. We beat him on all the stages for the rest of the day until he stopped too.”

What impresses you most about Rally Liepāja?

“Rally Liepāja is one of the standout events of the year in terms of organisation and I know that Raimonds Strokšs and his team put in a really fantastic effort every year. Their attention to detail is incredible and if they thought they could control the weather, I’m sure they’d have had a go at that as well. Hopefully next year we can find the sweet spot and hold the rally on a weekend when all the conditions are okay, because it would be the icing on the cake. But still, it’s a fantastic event.”

Media accreditation open for ERC Circuit of Ireland Rally

Media planning to attend Circuit of Ireland Rally not in possession of an ERC Permanent Press Credential must apply by following this link: http://www.circuitofireland.net/accreditation.html. ERC Permanent Press Credential holders planning to attend the event must confirm their attendance by emailing media@fiaerc.com. All television/radio enquiries must be addressed to Antonios Argyropoulos by emailing fia_erc_accreditations@eurosport.com.

Press enquiries: Paul Evans, media@fiaerc.com, +44 7710 743167 Television: Antonios Argyropoulos, fia_erc_accreditations@eurosport.com Drivers and teams: Jean-Baptiste Ley, jbley@eurosport.com