Loeb makes ERC champion Kajetanowicz’s day
Kajetan Kajetanowicz was given extra reason to celebrate winning the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship – he got the opportunity to meet nine-time world rally champion Sébastien Loeb at the inaugural Motorsport Awards by Eurosport Events in Paris on Thursday night. As well as celebrating the achievements of a number of ERC drivers and co-drivers, the event recognised the success recorded by competitors from the FIA World Touring Car Championship, the FIA European Touring Car Cup and the FIM Endurance World Championship for motorbikes. Eurosport Events promotes all four categories and the ceremony at the Paris Motorcycle Show in the French capital brought together leading lights from two and four wheels, and from the racing circuits of the world and the rally stages of Europe under one roof for the first time for a truly memorable and historic occasion. FIA President Jean Todt and FIM President Vito Ippolito were among the guests of honour. After receiving the perpetual ERC trophy from Loeb, Kajetanowicz said: “It was a very nice surprise for me to see Sébastien Loeb. I am not sure if he could see but my eyes were filling with tears. Everybody who knows anything about our sport knows who this man is.” Kajetanowicz was co-driven to the ERC title by fellow Pole Jarek Baran in their LOTOS Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5. Meanwhile, ERC2 champion Dávid Botka and combined ERC Junior and ERC3 champion Emil Bergkvist were among the other ERC stars in Paris to receive their trophies.
ERC calendar for 2016 ratified
The governing body of international motorsport, the FIA, has ratified the 2016 European Rally Championship calendar. The season will include 10 of the best rallies across Europe and competitors will face snow, gravel and asphalt surfaces. The season starts later than it did in 2015, with Rally Liepāja running from 5-7 February. The two new asphalt rallies are Rally Islas Canarias (round two from 11-13 March) and Rajd Rzeszowski in Poland taking place from 5-7 August. The season concludes with the Cyprus Rally on 24-25 September (pictured).
FIA European Rally Championship calendar 2016:
Reserve event: 20-22 October: Rallye International du Valais (Switzerland, asphalt)
Fan passes for Rally Liepāja available in time for Christmas!
Fans eager to attend the opening round of the 2016 FIA European Rally Championship can snap up their passes now. Tickets for Rally Liepāja, which is based on Latvia’s Baltic coast, are on sale in locations around the country and online at autorally.lv and will make ideal Christmas presents. Children up to the age of 10 can view for free, while the Rally Pass costs €18.00 or €25.00 from 1 January. “The fastest European drivers will take on the challenge of the tricky Kurzeme region roads, battling for every last tenth of a second. A winter rally takes some preparation not only for the drivers, but for the spectators as well, but I’m certain that a lot of sports fans will come out for a fantastic rally weekend,” said Rally Liepāja boss Raimond Strokšs.
Røkland lauds competitive FIA ERC Junior Championship
Norwegian driver Steve Røkland says the FIA ERC Junior Championship is the perfect proving ground for young drivers that are aiming for success in rallying. “The ERC Junior Championship is the strongest series for young drivers,” said Røkland. “It’s important to be in the hardest championship when you’re young because it gives you the right mind-set for when you’re at the top of your career.” Røkland, who drove a Peugeot 208 R2 in this year’s competition, added that he’d developed a lot through the season: “I finished almost all the rallies this year and we’ve been on the pace, especially in Latvia in the snow. We’ve been quick on gravel too. We haven’t got much experience on Tarmac so we got some experience for next year.”
Lukyanuk is hungry for more ERC success
Russian sensation Alexey Lukyanuk wants to taste more FIA European Rally Championship success in he future following his win double in 2015. “In the beginning of the season it was quite tough to make chances because we didn’t have the experience,” said the Ford Fiesta R5 driver. “In the end of the season we made progress and we had fast pace. In each gravel rally we had some problems, some technical problems, but on Tarmac we did a good job.” Lukyanuk, who was nominated for the FIA Action of the Year video as a result of his two-wheeled moment in Estonia as he neared his first win of the year. “It was a very exciting moment for us! We were so close to the end of the rally, just around the corner, so we just had to make sure we didn’t roll over!”
Business award for ERC Circuit of Ireland
The FIA European Rally Championship-counting Circuit of Ireland Rally has won a top business award. A highlight of the ERC season, the popular asphalt rally picked up the Tourism/Hospitality Project of the Year prize at the prestigious UTV Business Eye Awards, a joint venture between corporate monthly magazine Business Eye, and Northern Ireland broadcaster UTV. Counting as round three of the 2015 ERC season, the Circuit of Ireland attracted a strong crowd of 78,000 spectators and generated £1.8 million for the local Northern Ireland economy. Approximately 30 million people also watched the rally on the Eurosport television channel, while additional TV coverage was generated through Hollywood actor Idris Elba filming a documentary about his rally driving debut on the event.
Press enquiries: James Bolton, media.fiaerc.com
Drivers and teams: Jean-Baptiste_Ley@discovery.com