22 May 2015: Newsletter #21/15

Fantastic new ERC website goes live

The brand new FIA European Rally Championship website has gone live.

Available in English, French and Italian, the exciting new-look ERC website site gives rally fans a lot more video action and easier to access daily news updates, photographs and championship standings. There is also an online store, where fans can buy the latest ERC merchandise.

The new website can be found at fiaerc.com

Portugal’s top drivers head to SATA Rallye Açores

Several top Portuguese drivers will take on the FIA European Rally Championship regulars when SATA Rallye Açores turns 50 from 4-6 June.

Two-time event winner Bruno Magalhães, who tackled selected ERC events in 2014, will contest his first rally for six months, and believes his Peugeot 208 T16 is capable for giving him his third win. Seven-time Azores champion Ricardo Moura will drive a new Ford Fiesta R5, while José Pedro Fontes, who has already won two rounds of this year’s Portuguese championship, appears in a Citroën DS3 R5. Despite a crash in testing, Pedro Meireles hopes to give the ŠKODA Fabia R5 its ERC debut, while Carlos Martins drives a ŠKODA Fabia S2000.

The Portuguese drivers will mount a strong challenge for home victory, but will face stiff competition from the visiting ERC drivers – notably series leader Craig Breen (Peugeot 208 T16), Kajetan Kajetanowicz (Ford Fiesta R5), Jean-Michel Raoux (Fiesta R5), Antonín Tlusťák, Tomáš Kurka and Jaroslav Orsák (all ŠKODA Fabia S2000s) and Charles Martin and Jonathan Hirschi (Peugeot 208 T16s).

There will also be a big battle in the ERC2 section, with last year’s SATA Rallye Açores ERC Production Car Cup winner Luis Rego (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX) entering the fray and going head-to-head against three title contenders, Vojtěch Štajf and Dominykas Butvilas (both Subaru Impreza WRX STIs) and Dávid Botka (Mitsubishi).

Entries for the 50th anniversary running of SATA Rallye Açores closed last night (21 May) and the entry list is scheduled to be published by the event organisers tomorrow.

ERC registrations break the 80 mark

With two weeks to go before the fourth round of the FIA European Rally Championship, series promoter Eurosport Events has now received a total of 82 registrations.

The top Portuguese drivers have entered the championship ahead of SATA Rallye Açores (4-6 June), to make sure they benefit from being an official ERC registered driver. The benefits include eligibility to prize money, priority seeding, entry into the Qualifying Stage (which determines the all-important day one running order), priority status in the service area and global television coverage.

Drivers who have most recently registered include Bruno Magalhães (Peugeot 208 T16), Ricardo Moura (Ford Fiesta R5), José Pedro Fontes (Citroën DS3 R5), Carlos Martins (ŠKODA Fabia S2000) and Pedro Meireles (ŠKODA Fabia R5). Miguel Carvalho (Citroën C2R2 Max) and Paulo Neto and Henrique Moniz (Citroën DS3 R3Ts) have all registered for ERC3, while Luis Rego (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX) has registered for ERC2.

There is also a new registration in ERC Junior, with the arrival of Emīls Blūms. The young Latvian, who turns 23 a week today (May 28), will drive a Ford Fiesta R2.

In terms of class breakdown, 30 are registered for ERC1, 14 for ERC2 and 38 for ERC3 – 23 of which are ERC Junior entries.

New logo for ERC Ladies’ Trophy

The growing FIA European Rally Championship Ladies’ Trophy has been given a face-lift, thanks to a brand new logo. The race for the title couldn’t be closer at the moment, with defending champion Ekaterina Stratieva in a three-way tie for lead with Martina Danhelová and Inessa Tushkanova after three rounds.

ERC event wins major tourism award

The Discover Northern Ireland Circuit of Ireland Rally has won a major tourism industry award.

The 2014 edition of the FIA European Rally Championship event picked up a prestigious Highly Commended award in the Best Event or Festival Experience category at the 37th annual Northern Ireland Tourism Awards.

GPD Orsák Rally Sport plans busy ERC summer

Top Czech Republic team GPD Orsák Rally Sport has a busy FIA European Rally Championship summer ahead, running a pair of ŠKODA Fabia S2000s for a number of quality drivers.

The team has already run Jaroslav Orsák and Martin Hudec on Rally Liepāja. Orsák is also planning to contest both of next month’s ERC events – SATA Rallye Açores (4-6 June) and the Kenotek by CID LINES Ypres Rally (25-27 June). He will be joined in the two-car team by Tomáš Kurka in Azores and by the only non-Czech driver so far nominated in the team’s strong 2015 line-up, Norway’s Petter Kristiansen, in Belgium.

Which drivers will contest the team’s remaining ERC events are not yet set in stone, and it’s possible that the flamboyant Hudec may return for the Barum Czech Rally Zlín (28-30 August).

Tincescu: learning ERC Juniors ahead of title push in 2016

Raising Romanian star Florin Tincescu says that this year’s FIA ERC Junior Championship campaign is in preparation for a title push in 2016.

The 22-year old Napoca Rally Academy driver swapped his Citroën C2R2 Max for a Peugeot 208 R2 for 2015 and scored ERC Junior points first time out on the Discover Northern Ireland Circuit of Ireland Rally last month. Co-driven by Sergiu Itu, Tincescu – who is a defensive driver trainer and a student at a technical automotive university – hopes next month’s SATA Rallye Açores will net more experience and another points-scoring finish.

“Azores is one of the most beautiful rallies I have ever done in my career and I can’t wait to go back on the Island,” said Tincescu. “In our first year with the Peugeot 208 R2 we will try to gain experience in every rally in order to fight for the ERC Junior title in 2016. We will try to find a good rhythm quickly in the Azores and then to increase our speed on every stage. It’s a fantastic gravel rally and I hope that we can score some points in this new challenge.”

Q&A with Vasily Gryazin

Having finished a blistering fifth in ERC Junior on the Discover Northern Ireland Circuit of Ireland Rally, Russian youngster Vasily Gryazin says he’s out to win the class on SATA Rallye Açores in his Peugeot 208 R2. FIAERC.com caught up with the Sports Racing Technologies driver before he flies off to the mid-Atlantic island of São Miguel.

You beat many powerful four-wheel drive cars to finish second on the Rally Masters Show in Moscow. How hard did you push your Peugeot and can a 208 R2 be driven any faster?

“The Rally Masters Show was not very easy, as my brother and I fought to the limit! So, I think for my Peugeot 208 R2 to go any faster is not possible! My brother used to do touring car races and he knows very well this way – we were driving to the limit!”

How much of a confidence boost does a performance like that give you, ahead of the next round of the ERC?

“In the Azores I will try to push to the maximum. I feel very confident before the start of this rally. We will be serious contenders! I think we are well prepared for this rally.”

What are you most looking forward to in the remaining rounds of ERC Juniors?

“On the remaining stages I’m really looking forward to Rallye Açores. I did the rally last year and I have very good experience.”