The 2017 FIA European Rally Championship blasts off with the Azores Airlines Rallye from 30 March-1 April. This is a summary of what’s new for the season ahead.
Restructured ERC Junior: Hugely successful ERC Junior Championship, training ground for 67 emerging prospects to date, is restructured with ERC Junior U27 for drivers born on or after 1 January 1990 in R2 cars on Pirelli tyres. ERC Junior Under 28 is for drivers born on or after 1 January 1989 in R5 cars.
Big prizes: ERC Junior U27 champion receives 100,000 euros credit for ERC Junior U28 in 2018. ERC Junior U28 winner gets a World Rally Car drive on a European round of the WRC next year. It’s the ultimate career-progression opportunity and 19 drivers have signed up so far to prove their talent.
Teams’ championship takes off: Rather than separate titles in ERC1, ERC2 and ERC3 as previously, for the first time in ERC history there will now be one trophy for all competing teams. Each outfit will nominate a maximum of three cars from ERC-registered drivers, in either four- or two-wheel-drive configuration or a combination of both, to score points. The results of the two leading cars from a team count, with teams tallying their best six scores from eight. And with points distributed according to the four- and two-wheel-drive classifications, a team could score a maximum of 50 points per event with 25 on offer in 4WD and 25 in 2WD. Participating teams include: ACCR Czech Team, Castrol Ford Team Turkey, Motorsport Italia, Neiksans Rally Sport, Opel Rallye Junior Team, Peugeot Rally Academy, Play/Auto Acoreana Racing, Rallytechnology, Sports Racing Technologies and Tiger Energy Drink Rally Team.
ASN commitment increases: Four national motorsport federations will be actively involved in the ERC with ACCR (Czech Republic), EASU (Estonia) and REFDA (Spain) joining ADAC (Germany).
ERC Junior Experience: New training curriculum for ERC Junior Experience’s second season and some new names who will be learning from experts to be revealed soon.
Rallies: Rally Di Roma Capitale is a new addition to the schedule and marks Italy’s ERC comeback after a three-year break. The Azores Airlines Rallye opens the ERC schedule for the first time with Rally Liepāja now the final event of the campaign.
Rounds: Calendar trimmed to eight events from 10 in response to feedback from drivers and teams keen to control expenditure.
Scoring opportunities: Drivers count their best six scores in ERC1, ERC2 and ERC3. Read four rounds for ERC Junior U27 and ERC Junior U28.
Ladies’ Trophy boost: The ERC Ladies’ Trophy gets a boost with Tamara Molinaro and Catie Munnings announcing season-long campaigns, while two additional names will be in action on the second event of the season in Gran Canaria.