19 February 2015: Newsletter #08/15

ERC entries open for the Circuit of Ireland

Entries have officially opened for round three of the FIA European Rally Championship, the Circuit of Ireland Rally (2-4 April).

The Ulster Automobile Club-organised event will once again be based at the Titanic Quarter in Belfast, with a ceremonial start taking place outside Belfast City Hall, Donegall Square, at 19h00 on Thursday 2 April. This year’s rally features 18 asphalt special stages covering 216.18 kilometres, over a total distance of 677.59km, before the finish ramp in front of Titanic Building at approximately 18h15 on Saturday 4 April.

The event is also a round of the ERC Junior Championship and provides the first opportunity for drivers to score ERC Asphalt Master points.

The official entry form can be found at www.circuitofireland.net/competitors.html and a cool new Circuit of Ireland trailer can be viewed at www.fiaerc.com.

ŠKODA Fabia R5 alive as ERC champions continue testing

The FIA European Rally Championship-bound ŠKODA Fabia R5 remains on schedule for its competition debut this season, with ERC champions past and present taking the wheel of the new- generation machine during recent testing.

Reigning ERC champion Esapekka Lappi and 2013 title winner Jan Kopecký are part of the development team putting the Fabia R5 through its paces on asphalt and gravel in a striking camouflaged zebra test livery.

“We tested the new Fabia R5 on asphalt and recently on gravel,” said Kopecký. “The new car feels very good on all the surfaces. We are definitely on the right track.”

Once the new Fabia R5 has been homologated, it will be eligible for the European championship’s headlining ERC class where opposition will include the Citroën DS3 R5, Ford Fiesta R5, Ford Fiesta S2000, Peugeot 208 T16, Peugeot 207 S2000 and ŠKODA Fabia S2000.

“We want to have the new Fabia R5 approved by mid-2015 and are right on schedule to achieve this,” said ŠKODA Motorsport Director Michal Hrabánek.

ERC event winner Freddy Loix and multiple Austrian champion Raimund Baumschlager have also sampled the new Fabia R5.

ERC driver entry target doubled

The 2015 FIA European Rally Championship has more than doubled its target of registrations, with the series attracting 55 drivers after just two rounds.

With initiatives such as a focus on high-quality events, increased television and media coverage and a 200,000 Euros privateer prize fund, ERC promoter Eurosport Events is delighted with the quality and quantity of competitors across all classes this year. And with April’s Circuit of Ireland Rally rapidly approaching, more driver registrations are expected.

The full list of ERC registered crews can be found at: http://www.fiaerc.com/uploads/files/documents/261_2015_erc_registered_drivers_updated.pdf .

Botka: early ERC2 lead a nice surprise

Speed and consistency have played a key part in Dávid Botka’s successful start to the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship – although he’s still surprised to be leading ERC2 after two winter events.

The 30-year-old Hungarian lacks experience of rallying on snow and ice, yet he and co-driver Péter Mihalik finished second in ERC2 (ninth overall) on the season-opening Internationale Jännerrallye powered by GaGa Energy and fifth in ERC2 (13th overall) on Rally Liepāja.

Botka had a scare at the start of round two in Latvia when a fire started in the engine bay of his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX during the Qualifying Stage. But despite an off after the flying finish on SS8 – at a tricky junction which caught out half the field – Botka enjoyed another great run to the finish.

Even then the Botka Rally Team’s dramas weren’t quite over – it took them 24 hours to drive the 1,560 kilometres back to Budapest in Hungary after technical problems hit the service truck!

In a thrillingly close battle Botka leads the ERC2 class by two points to Vojtěch Štajf, with Siim Plangi just three points further back.

“Even after two very difficult winter rallies, with tough conditions and strong local competition, it has been a good start to our ERC campaign,” said team manager Levente Kazinczky. “Our next rally is the Circuit of Ireland. We must also prepare well for this, as everybody says that it is also not an easy rally, with many narrow sections in many places.”

German asphalt test for Opel Junior duo

Emil Bergkvist and Marijan Griebel will use the upcoming ADAC Saarland-Pfalz Rallye as a valuable chance to test on asphalt ahead of the next round of the FIA European Rally Championship – the demanding Circuit of Ireland Rally (2-4 April).

ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team driver Bergkvist won the ERC Junior class on Rally Liepāja, with the 20-year-old from Torsåker in Sweden also finishing an extraordinary sixth overall in his Adam R2. Team-mate Griebel started well, but the 25-year-old from Hahnweiler in Germany rolled his Adam R2 as darkness fell on day one.

Both Opel pilots will drive their Adam R2s on the St Wendel-based asphalt event on 6-7 March, which is the German rally championship season-opener and round one of the 2015 ADAC Opel Rallye Cup.

The ADAC Saarland-Pfalz Rallye is Griebel’s home event – in fact one of the stages goes straight past his house!

Profile: Guillaume de Mevius

Guillaume de Mevius is embarking on his first major foray outside Belgium this year, as the 20- year old student makes his debut in the ERC Junior Championship. He drove a Renault Twingo RS R1 on his maiden rally season in 2013 – and immediately showed his potential by winning the RACB’s Rookie of the Year Award. Last year he switched to a Peugeot for the Belgian 208 Rally Cup, and his year he’s driving a Santéloc Junior Team-run 208 R2 in the ERC Juniors. And it’s a true family ERC affair, with his elder brother Ghislain providing support and guidance in his team manager role, while their father Grégoire de Mevius is a five-time ERC rally winner. Geoffrey Brion co-drives.

Media accreditation open for ERC Circuit of Ireland Rally

All media planning to attend the Circuit of Ireland Rally on 2-4 April 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