ŠKODA Motorsport enters the 2015 ERC
ŠKODA Motorsport has placed an official factory team entry into the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship. The wonderful news brings the number of registrations for the Eurosport Events-promoted series to 108, as the second half of the season begins on auto24 Rally Estonia next week. ŠKODA Motorsport’s Esapekka Lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm are the reigning ERC champions, and this year the Czech team is focused entirely on its new Fabia R5, which made a winning ERC debut in the privately-entered hands of Freddy Loix/Johan Gitsels on the recent Kenotek by CID LINES Ypres Rally. The 108 registrations far exceed the target set by Eurosport Events, and highlights the rapidly growing popularity of the ERC. There are many benefits to registering for the ERC, including eligibility to privateer prize money (since the beginning of season, no less than 26 different privateer drivers have won ERC 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. In terms of class breakdown, 46 are now registered for ERC1, 17 for ERC2 and 45 for ERC3 – 27 of which are ERC Junior entries.
ERC leader Breen heads magnificent entry at next week’s auto24 Rally Estonia
Craig Breen will start next week’s auto24 Rally Estonia as number one seed, as the Peugeot Rally Academy driver enters the second half of the FIA European Rally Championship with a 21-point lead. Breen has contested the event once before, finishing 29th overall and 2nd in class in a Fiesta R2 in 2011 – but it will be like doing it for the first time all over again, as he returns in his immeasurably more powerful Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16. Rally Estonia will be completely new for second-placed Kajetan Kajetanowicz, as he attempts to close the gap on Breen in his LOTOS Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5. Robert Consani, who contested the event last year in a Peugeot 207 S2000, returns in a Citroën DS3 R5, himself eager to improve his third placed position. The local opposition is fierce, and arguably the best of the 2015 season so far, with the likes of Karl Kruuda (Citroën DS3 R5), Timmu Kõrge (Peugeot 208 T16) and Raul Jeets, Martin Kangur and Sander Pärn (Ford Fiesta R5s) all gunning for glory. The fastest round of the ERC has received a magnificent international 66-car entry, including multiple Finnish rally champion Juha Salo in a 208 T16. There is also a strong eight-car ERC2 field and 16 crews in ERC3 – including 14 ERC Junior drivers.
Lukyanuk takes Mitsubishi back to auto24 Rally Estonia
Alexey Lukyanuk will contest next week’s auto24 Rally Estonia in the car that he finished second in last year – his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. The Russian champion won the ERC Production Car Cup and picked up the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy in Estonia 12 months ago, and will start as ERC2 favourite again. Lukyanuk drove a Ford Fiesta R5 on the opening three rounds of this year’s ERC, and is fourth in the overall ERC standings. Another change for Estonia is that Lukyanuk will be partnered by his former co-driver, Alexey Arnautov. “We were quite strong last year there getting to second overall with this Evo,” said Lukyanuk. “Now it’s going to be extremely tough to fight for a similar result, as we see a huge pack of strongest drivers on the list, but anyway we are aiming to produce the maximum possible result and strike hard for each second.”
auto24 Rally Estonia ready to rock Tartu and Elva
Next week’s auto24 Rally Estonia really is going to rock the towns of Tartu on Friday (17 July), and Elva on Saturday (18 July)! 30,000 spectators came to watch the City Stage in Tartu last year, while the smaller town of Elva hosts a City Stage for the first time this year. In addition to the ERC main attraction, there will be lots of other things for fans to enjoy – with an even bigger EXPO area and dance-techno superstar Scooter performing live in Tartu, and rock legend Suzi Quatro in concert in Elva.
Niinemäe aims to make his ERC Junior mark
Miko Niinemäe is aiming to prove his skill and speed against the regular FIA European Junior Rally Championship contenders, when he contests next week’s auto24 Rally Estonia in his Peugeot 208 R2. The 22-year old Estonian driver, who leads the junior class in his national series, has contested the event twice before, and is aiming for a podium finish. The other ERC Junior newcomer is 26-year old Swede Mattias Ledin (208), who is making his first international rally start. 14 ERC Junior drivers are on the Rally Estonia entry list, with Emil Bergkvist (ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team Adam R2) taking a 26 point lead into the penultimate round, chased by Chris Ingram (Peugeot UK), Marijan Griebel (Adam R2), Steve Røkland (who will be co-driven for the first time in his 208 by Patrik Barth) and Diogo Gaga (Peugeot Rally Academy).
New Subaru unveiled by JRM
The brand new Subaru WRX STI rally car will make its rally debut on an upcoming round of the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship. That’s what British motorsport preparation specialist JRM said when it launched the world’s newest production rally car that has been built to the FIA’s new-for-2015 NR4 technical regulations and is eligible for ERC2. Based on Subaru’s MY15 WRX model type, JRM has developed the car in conjunction with engineers at Subaru Tecnica International in Japan. The latest-specification Subaru WRX STI has been heralded as the Japanese manufacturer’s best handling production-spec rally car to date, due to its improved body and suspension stiffness. This means the car offers improved traction and cornering performance when compared against older models.