6 February 2015: Newsletter #06/15

Statement by Eurosport Events regarding Tour de Corse

FIA European Rally Championship promoter Eurosport Events acknowledges the decision taken by l’Assemblée de la Collectivité Territoriale de Corse to support the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) bid from the Fédération Française du Sport Automobile (FFSA).

Since the Tour de Corse was dropped from the WRC in 2008, Eurosport Events has worked with the local organising body, the ASACC, during the last four years to maintain the international status of Tour de Corse and save this famous rally.

It worked successfully with the Tour de Corse organisers, arranging live television coverage on three occasions and reviving the rally to an international-level contest, with current Hyundai factory WRC driver Thierry Neuville scoring a breakthrough victory in Corsica in 2011 live on Eurosport.

Eurosport Events is pleased to see that its efforts and significant investment made over the last four years have not been in vain and that it has helped Tour de Corse return to the pinnacle of rallying.

The financial situation between the ASACC and Eurosport Events regarding the 2014 event is still not settled, and Eurosport Events looks forward to a positive outcome from its discussions with ASACC and the various Corsican authorities.

Eurosport Events will propose an amended 2015 ERC calendar, with Rallye International du Valais as the new final round, to the next FIA Rally Commission meeting.

ERC Qualifying Stage win for Lukyanuk in Latvia

Alexey Lukyanuk will start 15th on the road for the opening leg of Rally Liepāja after he set the fastest time on the Qualifying Stage for round two of the FIA European Rally Championship.

The Ford Fiesta R5 driver took 1m35.86s to complete the 3.09-kilometre stage and earned the right to select his starting position first at the ceremony in host city Liepāja this evening. Craig Breen was second fastest, just 0.5 seconds behind in his Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16, while ERC leader Kajetan Kajetanowicz was third in his LOTOS Rally Team Fiesta R5.

Siim Plangi was fourth fastest in the top-placed ERC2 car, while Dávid Botka was next in another Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X – albeit finishing the stage with a fire under the bonnet.

Local rising star Ralfs Sirmacis was top ERC Junior driver, setting an incredible 14th fastest time (1m45.79s) in his Sports Racing Technologies Peugeot 208 R2. Aleks Zawada (Opel Adam R2) and Mattias Adielsson (Peugeot 208 R2) were second and third fastest ERC Junior drivers. Poland’s Aron Domżała (Citroën DS3 R3T) was the fastest ERC3 driver not eligible for ERC Junior points, with 20th overall.

Saturday’s opening leg gets underway at 09h30 local time with the opening stage going live at 11h30. Krisztián Hideg will start first on the road.

Michelin masterclass for ERC Juniors

Official tyre partner Michelin gave the FIA ERC Junior Championship crews a masterclass in studded tyres, ahead of this weekend’s Rally Liepāja.

All 16 drivers and their co-drivers were invited to the Eurosport Events office at rally headquarters in Latvia, where Michelin’s highly experienced rally technician, Dominique Bravy, revealed the secrets of getting the most out of the tyres on snow and ice.

Bravy explained how to protect the 384 studs that are glued to each tyre and how to maximise the tyres performance during a loop of stages.

As four ERC Junior drivers have never rallied with studded tyres before, it proved to be a fascinating insight, which will not only help the young drivers this weekend – but on future winter rallies too.

ERC Juniors meet the team

Eurosport Events welcomed the ERC Junior Championship crews at a special meet and greet event before Rally Liepāja, where they met the TV production team.

With five minutes of every 26-minute ERC programme dedicated to ERC Juniors, the series offers a wonderful opportunity for Europe’s top aspiring young rally drivers to show the world their skills and personalities.

ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley led the welcome, introducing the likes of Jean-Pierre Nicolas (ERC Sporting Manager), Gilbert Roy (Eurosport Events’ Director of Editorial) and the team who will be dedicated to interviewing, filming and promoting the ERC Juniors this year.

Q&A: Driver Vojtěch Štajf

Vojtěch Štajf leads the ERC2 category after scoring victory in round one in Austria in his Subaru Duck Czech National Team Impreza WRX STI. We caught up with the experienced 40-year old driver, ahead of this weekend’s Rally Liepāja.

What are your thoughts ahead of Rally Liepāja?

“In Latvia, for us it will be very difficult rally. Although I have gathered a long line of racing experiences, I still feel most comfortable on asphalt stages that prevail in competitions in the Czech Republic. In Latvia, although there is unlikely to be a large amount of snow, probably we will ride on tyres with long studs, which is unusual for us, of course. On the other hand, we do not have to hesitate over the tyres choice so much as it is on asphalt rallies.”

Who will be your main rivals in Latvia?

“Our priority this year is the ERC2 classification, so this time we want to concentrate on the battle with rivals who entered into this championship. Hungarians Krisztián Hideg and Dávid Botka, and Pole Łukasz Kabaciński, raced in Austria and we suspect that they plan the whole series – therefore we will focus our attention on them. There will be many ERC2 competitors in Latvia, and we expect the crews from the Baltic states, which have a lot of experience on the local stages, to be very fast. But how the cards will be dealt begins with the qualifying stage and then of course the first section of the rally.”

What would be a good result for you this weekend?

“I remain a realist. I am well aware that I have contested Rally Liepāja only once, in 2013, when I completed the event with a fever and a temperature of 39°C. We know how to set up the car to local conditions and we have a rough idea about the nature of the local tracks, but otherwise from the stages I remember just a little. Although I’m currently taking antibiotics this time too, I should be fit come the start of the rally and we will be able to fully compete. When we add a good interplay with my experienced co-driver František Rajnoha, in Latvia we would be satisfied with a top five ERC2 result.”

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​