12 March 2015: Newsletter #11/15

Verschueren makes it 60 in the ERC

Vincent Verschueren has become the 60th driver to register for the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship.

Co-driven by Veronique Hostens, the talented Belgian driver will pilot a GODRIVE Rally Team Citroën DS3 R5 – making his first appearance in the series on the Geko Ypres Rally in June.

Verschueren is currently lying second in the Belgian Rally Championship, following his second place finish on the Haspengouwrally.

“Ypres Rally is the most important round of the Belgian Championship for us, and we have registered for ERC with the purpose to defend our position among the ERC competitors,” said team manager Gaby Goudezeune.

“We are actually negotiating with some sponsors, and if our result in Ypres is satisfactory, we are considering entering the Barum Rally and Rallye du Valais in preparation of an eventual more important ERC program for 2016. This means that, this year, Ypres Rally will be something very special for the team’s future.”

Media flock to Circuit of Ireland test day

The Circuit of Ireland held a special pre-event test day at Nutts Corner Circuit in Northern Ireland this week – with over 30 broadcast media, journalists, competition winners, sponsors and guests attending.

The drivers who took part included ERC Junior Jon Armstrong, who gave passenger rides in his Peugeot 208 R2 – including Stacey Heaney from the Ulster Star newspaper (pictured).

“We had a fantastic turnout for the test day at Nutts Corner Circuit – it was great to see so many guests, media and friends of the Circuit and I’d like to thank all the drivers who took part,” said Circuit of Ireland event director Bobby Willis.

“I’m really looking forward to a brilliant event on 2-4 April with up to 140 cars competing in a range of challenging stages in counties Antrim and Down.”

Lukyanuk ready for ERC asphalt challenge

Alexey Lukyanuk is planning a big test programme ahead of a very rare appearance on asphalt on the Circuit of Ireland Rally, round three of the FIA European Rally Championship.

The reigning Russian and Estonian rally champion has shown spectacular form this year – coming from 23rd to third on the opening Jännerrallye and leading Rally Liepāja until he rolled his Ford Fiesta R5.

Co-driven by Yevhen Chervonenko, Lukyanuk is still getting used to his new car – and he is confident more speed is yet to come.

“I am very happy with the car but as always, you need more time to get used to new technology,” said Lukyanuk. “We have a big test program planned before the Irish round, which will be a very specific asphalt race with jumps and narrow roads.

“Asphalt is a new surface to me, but I’m not afraid of it. Sure, the rally will maybe be dominated by Craig Breen, it being his home rally, and Kajto [Kajetan Kajetanowicz, the series leader] but we will catch up, step-by-step.”

Consani on an ERC prize money hat-trick

Robert Consani heads to the Circuit of Ireland with a chance of achieving a lucrative FIA European Rally Championship privateer prize money hat-trick.

The talented Peugeot 207 S2000 driver won 5,000 Euros after finishing second on the Jännerrallye and 2,000 Euros after coming home fifth (fourth privateer) on Rally Liepāja. He is the only driver to win a share of Eurosport Events’ 200,000 Euro prize fund on both rallies.

“With 7,000 Euros nowadays you can buy a new small day to day car! But of course when you are in motorsport, you spend it quite differently,” said Consani. “I did not even consider I was the only one to claim the prize money twice since the beginning of the season, and I will push to keep it as a trend. Now about what I will do with that extra money, I think it’s time to man up and maybe invest in something bigger. And I’m not talking about at yacht!”

Q&A with Calvin Beattie

Calvin Beattie is the latest driver to join the FIA European Junior Rally Championship.

The 20-year old from Newry in Northern Ireland will bring a Ford Fiesta R2 to the ERC Junior scene, starting at his home round – the Circuit of Ireland (2-4 April)

Will you be doing all five remaining rounds of the ERC Junior Championship?

“At present our plans are to contest the five remaining rounds of the ERC Juniors, while still studying at Queens University Belfast for my Mechanical Engineering degree. I hope we can take a good strong haul of points from the Circuit to help us for the rest of the season. Also we will compete at home on the Northern Ireland Championship Carryduff Forklift R2 Wales, to challenge for the fantastic prize set up by David Greer Motorsport.”

Have you done any events outside the UK and Ireland before?

“I have never competed on an event outside the UK and Ireland, so I’m looking forward to SATA Rallye Açores as it will be my first. I watched the rally on Eurosport’s brilliant coverage last year including the excellent live stages. The event looks very tough, technical and tricky, but satisfying once you reach the final time control.”

What happened on your previous Circuit of Ireland outings?

“Firstly I’d like to say that the Circuit of Ireland, in my opinion, is probably one of the best rallies in the UK with amazing stages. In 2012 I entered the Circuit when it was a round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in a Ford Fiesta ST as my first official road closed rally. We finished the event as the only finisher in the class, and it is still great to have an IRC class win on my CV. Last year I entered the Circuit, but didn’t however register for ERC Junior. Having upgraded to a Fiesta R2 before the Circuit it was my first event in the car. After day one we were lying third in RC4, but on the first stage on Saturday morning, less than 500 metres from the finish, the fuel pump stopped and we lost around five minutes before the car fired up again. It was very disheartening but that’s the joys of rallying. I am really looking forward to this year’s Circuit on Easter weekend, to challenge some of the finest drivers in Europe.”

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