26 March 2015: Newsletter #13/15

ERC registrations reach 70…

The 2015 FIA European Rally Championship has received 70 driver registrations – almost three times the target set by promoter Eurosport Events at the start of the year. A total of 24 R5 and Super 2000 drivers have registered and 12 are registered for ERC2 (NR4 production). An incredible 33 drivers have registered for ERC3 (R1, R2 and R3), of which 22 are ERC Junior competitors. There are several benefits to registering such as receiving priority status, being eligible for the round-by-round prize fund, having access to the ERC Village in service parks and an attractive media package. Visit Fiaerc.com for more details.

…With 85 per cent of Circuit of Ireland entries from the ERC

Next week’s Discover Northern Ireland Circuit of Ireland Rally (2-4 April) has attracted a magnificent 53-car entry – with 85 per cent of the field coming directly from the FIA European Rally Championship.

There are 18 R5 and Super 2000 crews from the top-flight ERC division, while a record-breaking 19 ERC Juniors will make the trip to Northern Ireland over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

The truly spectacular international contingent is complemented by a full entry in the Circuit of Ireland National Rally, meaning fans will enjoy a capacity 140-car field rich in quality and quantity, competing in the counties of Antrim and Down.

“The Circuit of Ireland is making huge strides forward and this fantastic entry list really bodes well for the future of the Circuit and indeed for rallying in general,” said Discover Northern Ireland Circuit of Ireland Event Director Bobby Willis. “In the past six years the organising committee has worked extremely hard and I feel quite emotional when I say that I believe we have fulfilled our strapline and really have woken up the sleeping giant!”

Rallye du Valais confirmed as final ERC round

Following a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, the FIA has announced that Rallye International du Valais has been confirmed as the 10th and final round of the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship.

Based in the towns of Martigny and Sion in southwest Switzerland, the popular asphalt rally will take place from 29-31 October.

“Rallye International du Valais has enjoyed a long association with the ERC and is popular with drivers and teams due to the spectacular scenery, demanding special stages, central location and significant fan base,” said Jean-Baptiste Ley, ERC Co-ordinator. “With the ERC calendar being reduced from 11 to 10 events for 2015, Rallye International du Valais was announced as the reserve event on the initial calendar. Since the end of the 2014 season, we have remained in close contact with the event promoter and we are pleased to announce the rally’s inclusion on the ERC calendar once again. It will make a fantastic finale to the 2015 series, and we anticipate that many of the ERC champions will be crowned in Switzerland as the battle for title honours goes down to the wire.”

New Citroën for ERC frontrunner Consani

Robert Consani is poised to debut his stunning new Citroën DS3 R5 in the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship.

The Frenchman, who currently lies third in the ERC drivers’ standings, has swapped his Peugeot 207 S2000 for the new car. Co-driven by Maxime Vilmot, Consani will make his first appearance in the DS3 R5 on next week’s Discover Northern Ireland Circuit of Ireland Rally (2-4 April).

“A difficult task awaits us with the learning of this new car, the work of adjustments looks huge, but we are looking forward to familiarising ourselves with this fantastic car,” said Consani.

ERC Ladies’ Trophy winner returns

Ekaterina Stratieva, the 2014 ERC Ladies’ Trophy champion, will make her first ERC start of 2015 on next week’s Discover Northern Ireland Circuit of Ireland Rally (2-4 April). After a break of over six months, the 32-year-old Bulgarian will test drive her Citroën C2 R2 on this weekend’s Tess Rally in Romania – which will also be her first event with new co-driver Julianna Nyirfas, who partnered Zoltán Bessenyey to back-to-back ERC 2WD titles in 2013 and 2014.

Inessa Tushkanova will debut a new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X in Ireland. The Russian-based glamour model is currently tied for the lead of the ERC Ladies’ Trophy with Czech driver Martina Daňhelová.

Kenotek new title sponsor of ERC Ypres Rally

Kenotek has agreed a three-year deal to be the new title sponsor of the Ypres Rally (25-27 June), round five of the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship.

Under the new agreement, the famous West Flanders event in Belgium will be known as the Kenotek® by CID LINES® Ypres Rally.

Under the brand name Kenotek, CID LINES developed a state-of-the-art range of innovative products for the maintenance and care of vehicles. Kenotek is the market leader in Belgium with a range focused on companies that are involved in vehicle care, car washes, truck washes and garages through to workshops for vehicles and machinery.

Q&A: Chris Ingram
At just 19 years old, Chris Ingram became the youngest winner of the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy on last year’s Circuit of Ireland Rally – after a performance described by Citroën WRC driver Kris Meeke as “absolutely outstanding”. Twelve months on, we asked the young Manchester-based Peugeot UK driver about his hopes and aims for this year’s event.

The Circuit of Ireland is your ‘home’ round of the ERC – but how well do you know the stages and what home advantage, if any, will you have?
“Northern Ireland is overseas for me, and maybe Ypres is even closer! But the Irish stages are incredible and I love the style of fast, flowing and bumpy roads that the Circuit of Ireland offers.”

You made a great start to your ERC Junior campaign on unfamiliar territory in Latvia. How important is a good result in Ireland, and what result will make you happy?
“My ERC Junior championship will really begin once we get to Ireland. I made some mistakes in Latvia but we still scored some good back-up points. I’ve lead the R2 class on the Circuit both times I’ve competed before misfortune, so I hope it’s a case of third time lucky and we can see the finish line this time with a podium.”

ERC Junior has the biggest entry ever in Ireland, so the competition will be fierce. Who do you predict will be your toughest rivals?
“Eurosport Events has provided a superb championship for young drivers, which is now proven with 19 ERC Junior crews going to Ireland. All of the Irish guys should be fast because they are bonkers!”

What will be your tactical strategy for the Circuit of Ireland?

“I hope to control my rally this year, instead of going faster and faster until a crash is inevitable! More than half of the ERC Juniors went out in Latvia, so I think Ireland could be a similar situation as some of the stages are unforgiving.”

How well do you think your Peugeot UK-supported 208 R2 will be suited to the bumpy Irish asphalt lanes?
“I’m so excited to pilot the 208 on these roller-coaster Irish roads! The chassis is brilliant and will suit the jumps and bumps. I remember last year that I spent more time in the air than on the Tarmac in the little Twingo, but the Peugeot is much more stable and lands big jumps better and safer.”

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​