22 January 2015: Newsletter #04/15

ERC registrations break the 40 mark

Just three weeks into the New Year, and the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship has received 42 confirmed registrations – with drivers coming from 20 different countries and cars from nine different manufacturers.

There is a good spread of competitors across the four main classes, with quality and quantity in each category. The headlining ERC category (for R5 and S2000 cars) already boasts 13 entries from nine countries, ERC2 (R4 production) currently has seven registered drivers and the ERC3 class (R1, R2 and R3) has 22 entries and building.

The start of the ERC Junior Championship at the forthcoming Rally Liepāja (6-8 February) has witnessed a flood of young driver entries in recent days, with 13 drivers coming from nine different countries (Sweden, Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Norway, Portugal, Romania and the UK).

The nine manufacturers currently represented are Citroën, Ford, Honda, Mitsubishi, Opel, Peugeot, Renault, ŠKODA and Subaru.

A full list of registered ERC drivers is available by clicking here.

Five reasons why Rally Liepāja will thrill

The 2015 FIA European Rally Championship continues in Latvia next month with the third running of Rally Liepāja. Here are five reasons to excited:

1) It’s a proper winter rally, with daytime temperatures between -5°C and -15°C, nighttime temperatures nearer -30°C, a ferocious wind-chill thanks for to the proximity of the Baltic Sea and stable snow cover.

2) This year’s route will warm crews up: 12 special stages – five on Saturday 7 February and seven the following day, ending with a super special city stage in Liepāja. The total stage distance will be 205,68 kilometres.

3) The Kurzeme region is steeped in rally history – 50 years ago, Liepāja hosted the first rally in Latvia. This year is the third time Liepāja has hosted a round of the FIA European Rally Championship.

4) Craig Breen has finished on the podium on both previous attempts at the event – second in 2013 and third last year. The Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16 driver will be hoping it’s third time lucky and as he aims for the top step this time.

5) Ford Fiesta R5 rivals Kajetan Kajetanowicz (Poland) and Alexey Lukyanuk (Belarus) will be fighting to become ERC Ice Masters champions in Latvia.

Markko Märtin’s team commits to ERC

MM-Motorsport, the Tallinn-based team owned by former WRC star Markko Märtin, will run a Ford Fiesta R5 for Raul Jeets in this year’s FIA European Rally Championship.

Co-driven by Andrus Toom, the Estonian driver will start his ERC campaign at Rally Liepāja – an event Jeets was running strongly in last year, before technical problems cost him several minutes on the final stage.

“The rest of the season will consist of mainly gravel rallies and one or two Tarmac events,” says MM-Motorsport Team Manager, Kristo Kraag. “It’s safe to say that Raul has clear intentions to take part in at least six ERC events, but the calendar is not yet one hundred percent sure.”

Ypres offers ERC ‘Super Stage’ experience

This year’s Geko Ypres Rally, round five of the FIA European Rally Championship, is offering spectators the chance to buy Super Stage tickets – with special benefits around the compact route and in the service area.

The famous Belgian asphalt event takes place between 25-27 June – and to help celebrate its 51st edition in 2015, the Super Stage ticket will allow access to all stages, detailed route maps and a special hospitality area in a privileged area of Grote Markt – the iconic setting for the main service area. The ticket also includes food and drinks vouchers and the opportunity to network or just enjoy the atmosphere.

“Our intention is to give everyone the opportunity to experience the Ypres Rally in a special way,” said Ypres Rally director, Jan Huyghe.

“With our Super Stage Ticket you will be able to take full advantage of experiencing all the battles on the various special stages of the Ypres Rally, whilst in addition you will have the opportunity of enjoying, together with your clients, business relations and other rally enthusiast, the Super Stage Hospitality Unit located on the Grote Markt. In other words, during the two days of competition you will receive a privileged welcome on the Grote Markt. Via food and drink vouchers, included in the package, you can relax and chat over a drink and a snack. There will undoubtedly be some lively atmosphere on Saturday evening in the Super Stage Hospitality, where the now well-renowned after-party will take off.”

Full Super Stage Tickets details are available here.

ERC excitement grows ahead of Rally Liepāja

With still two weeks to go before the start of Rally Liepāja (6-8 February), 38 crews have already entered round two of the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship in Latvia.

Kajetan Kajetanowicz will be aiming to extend his ERC lead in his LOTOS Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5, although he’ll be chased hard for overall victory by the likes of Alexey Lukyanuk (Fiesta R5), Robert Consani (Peugeot 207 S2000), Craig Breen (Peugeot 208 T16) and Raul Jeets (Fiesta R5).

All the ERC classes are once again very well represented, with added exciting coming with the start of the ERC Junior Championship. Eight ERC Junior drivers have already confirmed they’ll be heading to the snowy gravel stages, namely: Jon Armstrong (GBR), Emil Bergkvist (SWE), Gino Bux (BEL), Guillaume de Mevius (BEL), Diogo Gago (PRT), Marijan Griebel (DEU), Steve Røkland (NOR) and Julius Tannert (DEU) – with further entries expected.

Entries close on 22 January and to go to Lvrally.com for more information.

Q&A: Alexey Lukyanuk

Alexey Lukyanuk was one of the heroes of the ERC season-opener in Austria earlier this month, capturing third overall on the final stage and claiming the prestigious Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy to boot. This is what the Belarus driver had to say.

Having dropped to 23rd on the very first stage, you fought back to third by the end of the rally? How did you do that in such difficult driving conditions?

“My smile will tell you more than words! It was a disaster on the first stage to lose everything, or so we thought at the time. That was not the best moment, but step-by-step we managed to get to the third place and it’s especially nice to do it on the final stage. This is like a small win.”

How much confidence does this performance give you ahead of Rally Liepāja in Latvia?

“Of course we now feel more confident. We still have a lot of things to learn about the car, many of the settings we need to explore, and preparation with my co-driver was an issue because this was only our second time together. In Latvia we will be able to fight more with Kajto. He’s extremely fast – I don’t know how we’ll go, but we’ll do our best.”

Your drive in Austria earned you the prestigious Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy for the third time. What does that mean to you?
“Actually, I am really surprised. I am happy to represent this style, because in rallying I like to play for the spectators. I am really happy to win this great prize for the third time in my life.”

Media accreditation open for ERC Rally Liepāja

Media planning to attend Rally Liepāja not in possession of an ERC Permanent Press Credential must apply by following this link: http://2015.lvrally.com/eng/media/accreditation. 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​