14 May 2015: Newsletter #20/15

14 May 2015: Newsletter #20/15

Azores announce 13 million Euro ERC economic benefit

At Tuesday night’s SATA Rallye Açores press conference, Fernando Perna, from the Algarve University, announced the results of an economic impact study, showing that last year’s FIA European Rally Championship event generating revenues of more than 13 million Euros – a return 13.5 times higher than the investment.

Vitor Fraga, the Azorean Regional Secretary of Tourism and Transport, said that for the Government of the Azores, the SATA Rallye Açores continues to be one of the biggest and best events that promotes the Azores globally, thanks to the partnership with Eurosport Events. He said that the Azorean Government will continue to support the rally, as the economic results demonstrate that the investment continues to be beneficial for all.

Held in the Hotel Açores Atlantico in Ponta Delgada, and broadcast live on-line, the other keynote speakers included Francisco Coelho (Chairman of SATA Rallye Açores Organizing Committee), Manuel de Mello Breyner (President of the Portuguese Federation of Automobile and Karting), Fatima Rego (representing the Mayor of Ponta Delgada) and António Andrade (race director of the SATA Rallye Açores).

ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley was also there, highlighting Eurosport Events’ increased 50,000 Euro privateer prize fund in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Rallye Açores and a target of 30 million TV viewers worldwide.

Rally welcome for ERC fans landing in São Miguel

Those landing at João Paulo II Airport, on the island of São Miguel, for round four of the FIA European Rally Championship, will be greeted by a very special SATA Rallye Açores display.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the event, and with the support of ANA Airports and the Azorean Government, air travellers will see close up a Lancia Delta Integrale, decorated with the names of all the SATA Rallye Açores past winners. The Lancia’s special livery has been created by Mário Pereira, the prominent Azorean designer, who also drew the livery for Bernardo Sousa’s 2014 event winning Fiesta RRC.

The car will be on display at the airport until the end of the rally.

Gravel rookie Griebel uses WRC to test for ERC

Is this the first time a driver has done a round of the FIA World Rally Championship to test for a round of the FIA European Rally Championship?

It certainly might be – as ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team driver Marijan Griebel will contest Rally Portugal (23-25 May) in preparation for SATA Rally Açores (4-6 June)!

The young German driver, who celebrates his 26th birthday on the Portugal recce, has never contested a gravel rally before. He has already tested the Opel Adam R2 on the loose in Austria and, together with co-driver Stefan Clemens, will now continue testing on the WRC event.

“This will be the perfect preparation for the gravel festival at the Azores,” said Griebel. “My goal is to learn as much as possible in Portugal, as it will be my first ever gravel rally as a competitor. So I won’t concentrate too much on what the other competitors in the R2 class do. Maybe I will take short glimpses on the stage times!”

South Swedish call for ERC super Swede

FIA European Junior Rally Championship leader Emil Bergkvist will contest his homeland’s South Swedish Rally this weekend (May 16-17), as a test for the for SATA Rally Açores (4-6 June).

Co-driven by fellow Swede Joakim Sjöberg, Bergkvist has won both rounds of the ERC Junior championship so far this year, and heads to the Azores with a 42 point lead. The ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team are far from resting on past successes, however, with a gravel test in Austria and now a full-blown ‘dress rehearsal’ rally for Bergkvist.

Raoux loves “completely mad” Sete Cidades stage in Azores

Jean-Michel Raoux is looking forward to the “completely mad” Sete Cidades stage on this year’s SATA Rallye Açores (4-6 June) – as he returns to the event that saw him score his best FIA European Rally Championship result.

Raoux finished third in the Azores last year in a Peugeot 207 S2000, and the French gravel expert will be back next month in a 100% Sport-run Ford Fiesta R5.

“I will be on Rallye Açores for many reasons – I like so much this Island, I like so much the rally, I like the ERC and because I need to be in the fight,” said Raoux. “Of course in this rally, Sete Cidades is the most beautiful, technical and amazing stage! The stage is completely mad, but you want the play to never stop!”

Q&A with Jon Armstrong

Jon Armstrong’s early ERC Junior pace on the Circuit of Ireland Rally was rewarded with the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy. We caught up with the young Northern Irish Peugeot 208 R2 driver, ahead of his first trip to SATA Rallye Açores.

What are your thoughts, ahead of your first SATA Rallye Açores?

“I think it will be a very difficult rally for us because it is a rally like no other. The roads look insane from all the Eurosport coverage I’ve watched from previous years! So for our first time there, it will be very challenging – but we plan to enjoy it.”

How much experience on gravel do you have with the Peugeot?

“I did some testing on gravel before Latvia, but apart from that I haven’t done any proper gravel events in the Peugeot 208 R2. The car is good on gravel, it has really nice traction so we will see what we can do.”

Have you done any special training ahead of Azores? 

“I just do my usual training in the gym to keep my fitness levels up. If it is warm in the Azores, then I think it will be a tough event physically because the stages look quite technical.”

Were you happy with your new pace note system in Ireland?

“Yes, it all worked fine on the Circuit of Ireland. We had a very good pace and no big moments, so I think this shows how effective our pace notes are and our ability to make them.”