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Updated: 17 min 57 sec ago

Brož: I need more ERC Junior luck

2 hours 8 min ago

Dominik Brož enters the penultimate event of the FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship in need of more luck following a frustrating home outing in the Pirelli-supported category.

Brož retired on the opening stage of Barum Czech Rally Zlín with a broken wheel then failed to leave first service on Saturday morning when the gearbox in his PEUGEOT 208 R2 failed.

Prior to his home rally, Brož had enjoyed a 100 per cent finishing rate. He’s hoping for a return to form in the Czech Republic federation-backed ACCR Czech Rally Team entry he shares with co-driver Petr Těšínský.

“Rally Poland will be new experience for all of us,” said Brož, part of the current ERC Junior Experience intake. “We were really sad of our home rally where we ended the race in the fifth corner because of a cracked wheel. So we hope we will have more luck in this competition. The race will be long and hard and we will try to have the best result for us and for our team.”

The post Brož: I need more ERC Junior luck appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Pending arrival keeps Åhlin out of ERC Poland action

5 hours 9 min ago

Fredrik Åhlin will be a non-starter on PZM Rally Poland because co-driver Joakim Sjöberg and wife Marie are expecting the arrival of their second child.

The Swedes have been on strong form in their first season in the FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship with podiums in the Azores and Italy. And they would have been among the contenders for class success – and an outside shot at the title – on PZM Rally Poland this week, had it not been for their change of plan.

“We probably both hoped that the little one would be in a hurry to come out, but now it's not the decision is easy for me because I definitely want Joakim to sit in the right seat,” said Swedish National Team member Åhlin.

With no Rally Poland to contest, Åhlin is planning to head to Mantorp Park near Stockholm to watch his sister Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky competing in the final rounds of the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship. The 25-year-old was recently confirmed as the first female winner in the series following a judicial process.

The post Pending arrival keeps Åhlin out of ERC Poland action appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

From European champion to world champion for ERC Junior graduate Bergkvist

Tue, 09/18/2018 - 13:00

Emil Bergkvist, the ERC Junior champion of 2015, has added another significant title to his impressive haul, becoming World Junior champion with class victory in Turkey last weekend.

Bergkvist, from Sweden, graduated to world level after capturing the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC Junior crown.

For this year, he entered the M-Sport Poland-run Junior world championship and took the top prize – a Ford Fiesta R5 plus a tyre package from Pirelli – following a consistently-strong campaign.

“This is unbelievable and I am so happy,” said Bergkvist, who won the ERC Junior title as part of the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team line-up. “Everything has been amazing and I want to thank everyone who made it possible. I have no words for this and I am just so excited. To think that this Ford Fiesta R5 is now mine is a little bit unreal and I think it will take some time to realise what has happened and what we have achieved.”

Meanwhile, the ERC Junior Under 27 and ERC Junior Under 28 titles both remain up for grabs with two events remaining, starting with this week’s PZM Rally Poland (21-23 September).

The post From European champion to world champion for ERC Junior graduate Bergkvist appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

ERC Junior Llarena wins at home, gets ready for “war”

Tue, 09/18/2018 - 12:00

Efrén Llarena delivered a class-winning performance on Rally Princesa de Asturias in his native Spain last weekend – then announced he’s “ready for war”.

The Rally Team Spain driver starts this week’s PZM Rally Poland still in contention for the Pirelli-supported FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship. However, he needs a big result in Mikołajki and for current leader Mārtiņš Sesks to come away with a big zero.

“It’s a very important event for us as it’s our last opportunity to be in the fight for the ERC Junior U27 Championship title,” said Llarena, whose RFEDA-supported PEUGEOT 208 R2 is co-driven by compatriot Sara Fernández. “I will try my very best to find a good set-up on the test and try to win this rally. We are ready for the war!”

For his class victory on the Oviedo-based Rally Princesa de Asturias, a round of the Spanish Tarmac championship, Llarena was armed with a PEUGEOT 308 N5 (pictured) built by RMC Motorsport and prepared by Mavisa Sport, which overseas his ERC campaign. Finishing seventh overall, Llarena and Fernández won class N5 and scored top points in the RMC N5 Cup for the second event running.

The RMC N5 Cup is a promotional championship organised by RMC from its base in León. Drivers use N5 cars built by the company. They are based on the Maxi Rally Car concept from Argentina and have been active on Spanish championship events since the end of 2015. Powered by 1.6-litre turbo engines, the four-wheel-drive cars deliver performance levels between R2 and R5.

The post ERC Junior Llarena wins at home, gets ready for “war” appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Rising star Marczyk brings ŠKODA Polska to the ERC

Tue, 09/18/2018 - 09:00

Miko Marczyk will continue his rapid rise in rallying by chasing FIA ERC Junior Under 28 points on his home round of the European championship, the PZM 75th Rally Poland, which begins with the first of 15 stages in host town Mikołajki on Friday evening (21 September).

In only his third season of rallying, the former amateur karter heads the ŠKODA Polska Motorsport attack as the firm returns to the sport following a seven-year break.

Despite his lack of experience, Marczyk won the Polish championship-counting Rally Elektrėnai in Lithuania earlier this month on what was his first proper gravel event. Now the university graduate is preparing for this FIA European Rally Championship debut in the Fabia R5 he shares with co-driver Szymon Gospodarczyk.

“This is a big pleasure for me to start in the European championship, but at the moment my gravel experience is small,” said the 22-year-old. “I was driving my first gravel event one week ago. Of course it was a big success for us but I still need to improve my driving on gravel.”

He continued: “It’s great to be in the same group as Nikolay Gryazin, Chris Ingram and Fabian Kreim. They are really fast and I keep my fingers crossed for their success. I don’t think I am a good competitor for them for now, but maybe next year it’s a different story. I will be happy if we drive a clean rally with good pace and be on the finish. It’s also necessary for me to score some points in Polish championship.''

Marczyk was a virtual unknown when he joined the Subaru Poland Rally Team for 2017, while ŠKODA Polska Motorsport’s decision to sign him for 2018 was firmly in keeping with its policy of supporting young drivers aiming to prove their talent. “After seven years ŠKODA came back to the Polish championship and decided to work with a young driver with promise they could develop,” Marczyk explained. “We’ve had a medium season with some good moments. Now I want to finish with some points and without problems. If things go as I hope, we will make a quite good score.”

ŠKODA Polska is not the only ŠKODA importer supporting drivers in the ERC: ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland is backing Fabian Kreim – who heads ERC Junior Under 28 – while ŠKODA Slovakia was behind Martin Koči’s ERC Junior U28 debut earlier this season.

“ERC Junior U28 is the category for young stars in R5 cars and Miko certainly ticks those boxes,” said ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptste Ley. “With the support of ŠKODA Polska, Miko is a real hope for the future. It would be great if this could be the first of a number of appearances in the ERC.”

The post Rising star Marczyk brings ŠKODA Polska to the ERC appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Pellier to use Cyprus knowledge for Poland ERC debut

Mon, 09/17/2018 - 18:00

Laurent Pellier will call on knowledge gained during his class-winning run on the Cyprus Rally when he makes his debut on PZM Rally Poland, which is turning 75 this week.

Pellier won ERC3 in Cyprus on a one-off outing in a Saintéloc Junior Team PEUGEOT 208 R2. Armed with the faster and more advanced 208 T16 for Poland, which forms part of his FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship campaign, Pellier is feeling confident as he prepares to face his latest challenge.

I like gravel and feel comfortable on this surface,” the PEUGEOT Rally Academy ace explained. “In 2017 I won three gravel rounds in the 208 Rally Cup and, this year, I won in Cyprus with the PEUGEOT 208 R2. In Mikołajki, with the 208 T16, I have to adapt to driving a four-wheel-drive car on gravel, something I have only done one before in the Azores. I want to get more experience in Poland and get the best result possible.”

The post Pellier to use Cyprus knowledge for Poland ERC debut appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Gravel return makes for a happy ERC Junior Hokkanen

Mon, 09/17/2018 - 12:00

Miika Hokkanen can’t wait to make his PZM Rally Poland debut this week – because it will mean a return to his favoured gravel surface.

The 2017 Finnish R2 champion has performed well on the three asphalt events he has contested in the Pirelli-supported FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship but admits he prefers loose-surface events.

“I’m looking forward to get back onto gravel after various Tarmac events in the ERC, especially as we are heading for Rally Poland with its fast and flowing stages similar to Finland,” said Hokkanen. “In this time of year, the weather will also play a big role, whether it will rain or not. Hopefully we can finally get a result we feel reflects our pace after two mechanical retirements in a row.”

 Reeta Hämäläinen will co-drive Hokkanen’s Saintéloc Junior Team PEUGEOT 208 R2.

The post Gravel return makes for a happy ERC Junior Hokkanen appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

ERC Junior Under 28 title battle heats up in Poland

Mon, 09/17/2018 - 09:00

The battle to win the FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship intensifies on PZM Rally Poland this week (21-23 September). Here’s how the leading contenders stand with two events remaining and what they’ve had to say.

Fabian Kreim
Age:
25
Nationality: German
Team: ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland
Car: ŠKODA Fabia R5
Co-driver: Frank Christian (Germany)
Wins: 1
Points total: 113* (first)

“I am feeling good at the moment so I expect to have a good rally in Poland. The hope is to take a good result in the ERC Junior U28 category and make sure we don’t make any mistakes so that we can claim hopefully as many points as possible. I have competed in Poland but not on gravel so this event is new to me, but I am sure I can go quickly. We will have a big fight with Fabian Kreim and Chris Ingram for the championship, so we need to beat them but they are very fast so that won’t be easy.”

Chris Ingram
Age:
24
Nationality: British
Team: Toksport WRT
Car: ŠKODA Fabia R5
Co-driver: Ross Whittock (Great Britain)
Wins: 1
Points total: 93* (second)

“Barum was a massive learning curve and I had no confidence at all after I went off into the bushes [on the first stage on Saturday and] there was too much at stake to do another stupid mistake and bin the car. We were testing for most of the rally [after that] and only at the very end [did we get] it right with some really good times. The last stage times were really promising but we need a bit of luck. Finishing on the podium means we can go absolutely flat out on the last two rounds because we have three decent scores. Barum was only my third proper rally in the car and it’s showing I haven’t quite got the experience to string it together yet. But every rally we’ve shown pace and hopefully it will come together soon.”

Nikolay Gryazin
Age:
20
Nationality: Russian
Team: Sports Racing Technologies
Car: ŠKODA Fabia R5
Co-driver: Yaroslav Fedorov (Russia)
Wins: 2
Points total: 91* (third)

“Rally Poland is a very fast and special gravel rally. Of course we are in the lead of the ERC Junior U28 Championship but Nikolay [Gryazin] and Chris [Ingram] are very fast drivers and they have much more experience on gravel. We had last week just one test day on gravel since the Azores Airlines Rallye. So it will be very difficult for us to fight for a podium. But we will try everything to stay in the lead.”

*Drivers count their best four scores only. Kreim has scored on four rallies, Gryazin and Ingram on three rallies.

The post ERC Junior Under 28 title battle heats up in Poland appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

ERC regular von Thurn und Taxis takes a break

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 12:00

Having been an ever-present in the FIA European Rally Championship since embarking on his full-time rallying career in 2017, Albert von Thurn und Taxis has elected to skip Rally Poland due to back trouble.

However, the popular German plans to return to action on the season-closing Rally Liepāja.

Von Thurn und Taxis is spending his second ERC season in a Baumschlager Rallye & Racing-run ŠKODA Fabia R5. He scored points on the Cyprus Rally in June.

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ERC stars delight in Turkey

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 12:00

FIA ERC Junior Under 27 champion Chris Ingram was on top form on his step up to the World Rally Championship with third in class and ninth overall in Turkey today.

Co-driven by fellow Briton Ross Whittock, Ingram followed home former ERC regular Simone Tempestini with 2013 ERC title winner Jan Kopecký taking top honours for the fifth time this season to close within touching distance of the world championship’s second-tier title.

“It’s been an unbelievable experience,” said Ingram, who was driving a ŠKODA Fabia R5 for Toksport WRT and will be back on ERC duty on next week's PZM Rally Poland. “It’s my first World Rally Championship event in an R5 car so to do this is incredible.”

Three-time ERC champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz fought back from mechanical issues to finish Rally Turkey Marmaris in P11 overall and fourth in class. He began the event with the fifth fastest time of all on the Marmaris street stage.

With the exception of P10 finisher Sébastien Ogier, all drivers finishing in the top 10 – including top three Ott Tänak, Jari-Matti Latvala and Hayden Paddon – have ERC experience.

The post ERC stars delight in Turkey appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Former ERC champion Hołowczyc on course in Poland

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 06:00

Polish national hero Krzysztof Hołowczyc will be leading the way quite literally when PZM Rally Poland hosts the FIA European Rally Championship next week.

However, there will be no chance of a record-equalling fourth win with the 1997 ERC champion’s role restricted to course car-driving duties.

PZM Rally Poland is the penultimate event of the ERC season and takes place from 21-23 September.

The post Former ERC champion Hołowczyc on course in Poland appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Johansson plans step-by-step ERC return

Sat, 09/15/2018 - 18:00

Sebastian Johansson will make his second appearance in the FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship intent on building his experience in the Pirelli-supported category.

Swede Johansson made his ERC Junior U27 debut on July’s Rally di Roma Capitale but was out of luck on both legs of the Italian event, retiring twice. He hopes PZM Rally Poland will be a different story.

“It seems to be a great event and the roads look a bit familiar with the Swedish conditions,” said the JR Motorsport driver. “We know that we don’t have the same kilometres in the car as many of the other drivers, but we will take it step by step, do our best and enjoy every second of the rally. It will be a great experience for us.”

Johansson is pictured with co-driver Jesper Elfver (foreground)

The post Johansson plans step-by-step ERC return appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Vita goes online to get ready for next ERC Junior challenge

Sat, 09/15/2018 - 12:00

FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship runner Mattia Vita has prepared for his PZM Rally Poland debut by watching onboard footage from recent editions of the spectacular gravel event.

Ex-circuit racer Vita has scant experience driving on loose surfaces, while the Mikołajki event is all-new to the TRT Junior Rally Team driver, which has prompted several sessions of online viewing.

“Rally Poland isn’t an event I know too well,” said Vita, who is co-driven by fellow Italian Pietro Ometto. “I have spent the last few days studying onboards from the previous world championship edition trying to understand what surface I will find.

“What I can see is that it’s a sandy gravel, which means I’m sure the R5 cars will create big holes in sections of the road which means the two-wheel-drive cars will struggle for traction.”

He continued: “I hope the weather will be sunny because considering my minimal gravel experience, a muddy surface would be an added difficulty. I am looking to do my best and continue my improvements as a driver.”

PZM Rally Poland hosts the penultimate round of the Pirelli-supported category from 21-23 September.

The post Vita goes online to get ready for next ERC Junior challenge appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

ERC PZM Rally Poland facts and stats

Sat, 09/15/2018 - 06:00

It’s PZM Rally Poland time next week (21-23 September). Here are some essential facts and stats ahead of the FIA European Rally Championship qualifier.

PZM RALLY POLAND IN NUMBERS:

75: Run for the first time in 1921 from the capital Warsaw, PZM Rally Poland is turning 75 this season, making it the second oldest rally in the world behind Rallye Monte-Carlo.

3: Kajetan Kajetanowicz’s third Rally Poland victory in 2013 was also the first in the ERC by an R5 car. By 2017 he’d claimed the coveted European title a record-breaking three years in succession.

1: Esapekka Lappi won Rally Poland in 2012. He became ERC champion two seasons later and is now an established factory driver in the world championship.

3: Polish national hero Krzysztof Hołowczyc is a three-time Rally Poland winner but there will be no chance of a fourth win in 2018: the 1997 ERC champion’s role is restricted to course car-driving duties only.


2: Two former Polish champions will chase Rally Poland success: Grzegorz Grzyb and Łukasz Habaj.

FAST FACTS:

*A founding round of the world championship in 1973 when current FIA President Jean Todt co-drove Achim Warmbold to victory on what was then a Tarmac event, Rally Poland’s ERC links date back to 1960 when German pair Walter Schock-Moll and Rolf Moll triumphed in a Mercedes-Benz 220 SE.

*Mikołajki in the picturesque Masurian lake district has been Rally Poland’s base since 2005, which marked the event’s switch from asphalt to gravel stages.

*A three-hour drive north of Warsaw, Mikołajki is home to the gigantic Hotel Gołębiewski, which doubles as event HQ and has grounds large enough to accommodate the rally’s service park and superspecial.

*With the exception of the Mikołajki Arena stage, only the 19.60-kilometre Świętajno test, complete with the famous Rosochackie jump, is unaltered from 2017. Meanwhile, the Pozedrze stage is all-new for 2018.

*Pole Sobiesław Zasada, who became outright ERC champion in 1971 after taking two category titles in the 1960s, is the most successful driver in Rally Poland history with four wins.

Photo: Zbigniew Kołodziejek/Rally Poland

The post ERC PZM Rally Poland facts and stats appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Subaru Poland Rally Team back in the ERC with emerging talent Słobodzian

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 15:00

The Subaru Poland Rally Team will return to the FIA European Rally Championship on its home event, the PZM 75th Rally Poland, from 21-23 September.

After guiding Dominykas Butvilas to third place in ERC2 in 2015, Wojciech Chuchała went two places better in 2016 with the production championship crown.

Subaru Poland Rally Team then made a one-off ERC appearance with Marcin Słobodzian on Rally Rzeszow last season and will be back in the championship next week with a single-car entry for Słobodzian and co-driver Grzegorz Dachowski.

“Rally Poland for me is the most important rally this season,” said 26-year-old Słobodzian. “I've never been there as a competitor but the stages are well known for many years. I can't wait to try my best on those iconic and very fast roads. We have already won our title in the Polish championship so now we can try to push a little more and have good fun.”

Despite his limited experience on gravel, Słobodzian won his class on the previous Polish championship round – Rally Elektrėnai in Lithuania, which he hopes will give him an edge on Poland’s ERC qualifier.

“I have done only about 600-700 kilometres on gravel in my whole life so most of my rivals are more experienced,” said Słobodzian. “But I feel very good on loose surfaces and, in preparation for Rally Poland, we won our class on Rally Elektrėnai in Lithuania. I hope our pace will be good on the Polish stages too.”

Słobodzian has enjoyed a rapid – and diverse – rise since embarking on his competition career. He won two Polish hillclimb titles before switching to the Renault Clio Central Europe Cup circuit racing series. He started rallying in 2016, competing in a Polish regional cup aboard a Subaru Impreza N14, before joining Subaru Poland Rally Team for 2017 as part of the outfit’s mission to help young drivers.

The battle for this season’s ERC2 title was settled in Tibor Érdi Jr’s favour on the last event, Barum Czech Rally Zlín, after the Hungarian was able to move out of reach of his closest challenger and fellow Mitsubishi Lancer driver, Sergei Remennik from Russia.

Based in Mikołajki in the Mazurian lake district, Rally Poland is back on the ERC schedule for the first time in five years. This season’s event features 15 stages over a competitive distance of 214.29 kilometres.

The post Subaru Poland Rally Team back in the ERC with emerging talent Słobodzian appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Polish 2WD champion to test skills against ERC Junior U27 aces at home

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 12:00

Kacper Wróblewski will test himself against some of Europe’s leading young rally drivers when he makes his FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship debut on his home event, PZM Rally Poland, next week.

Wróblewski, who clinched the Polish 2WD title at his first attempt earlier this month, will drive a Rallytechnology-prepared PEUGEOT 208 R2 on the all-gravel event. Insisting he’s under no pressure to achieve a strong result following his domestic success, the 26-year-old will spend the event comparing his stage times to his rivals in the Pirelli-supported ERC Junior U27 category for young drivers in R2 cars.

“We are very excited to be doing Rally Poland,” said Wróblewski. “This year is my first full season in the Polish Rally Championship and we are Polish champions in 2WD so this rally will be pure pleasure for us. My goal is mainly to gain experience and see how close we are to the top ERC Junior U27 drivers, especially as this will be only my third gravel rally in my life.”

Wróblewski began competing in 2007 and initially achieved success in hillclimbs before switching to rallying in 2010 in the Polish Rally Cup. He utilised skills passed on to him by leading Polish drivers Łukasz Habaj, Jacek Spentany and Piotr Woś, plus his father Wojtek Wróblewski, through intensive training sessions and graduated to the Polish championship in 2014, although it wasn’t until this year that he was able to embark on a full-season campaign. He was previously part of the Polish National Team in alpine skiing and won various competitions and junior and child level.

Although this will be Wróblewski’s first Rally Poland, he’s no stranger to the event he will tackle with co-driver and compatriot Jacek Spentany from 21-23 September. “Rally Poland has always been a great event for me,” Wróblewski said. “When it was a world championship round and the ERC before that I always went to see it. Now I'm very happy and glad that we have an opportunity to start in it. I am incredibly excited about this fact and hope to finish it and have lots of fun.”

Wróblewski is also no stranger to the ERC having attended a number of rounds with his mentor Łukasz Habaj. “I have known Łukasz for years and have the opportunity to see how everything works on the ERC when I got to the events with him. He also supports me in my rallies in Poland with know-how so I definitely use his experience.”

ERC Junior has been helping young drivers in R2 cars on Pirelli tyres to learn, shine and climb since 2014 with graduates including Fabio Andolfi, Emil Bergkvist, Jan Černý, Marijan Griebel, Nikolay Gryazin, Jari Huttunen, Chris Ingram, Stéphane Lefebvre, Łukasz Pieniazek and Julius Tannert.

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Event preview: Gryazin and Ingram the Kreim fighters as ERC Junior U28 battle intensifies in Poland

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 09:00

Nikolay Gryazin and Chris Ingram will be among the young stars in R5 cars fighting Kreim when PZM Rally Poland returns to the FIA European Rally Championship schedule next week (21-23 September).

Fabian Kreim, to give him his full name, tops the ERC Junior Under 28 category ahead of the penultimate round having graduated to Europe’s top flight as a double national champion from Germany. But with a 20-point margin over Ingram, who is two points ahead of Gryazin, the title battle is wide open, especially when the four-scores-count rule is taken into consideration.

Kreim, part of the ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland attack, has scored four times in 2018, while it’s three for Gryazin (Sports Racing Technologies) and Ingram (Toksport WRT), which puts the latter pair in the ascendency. All three drive Fabia R5s and head to Poland with recent gravel-driving experience.

Gryazin won the Polish championship-counting Rally Elektrėnai in Lithuania last week following his run to fourth place on the Enset Oy SM-Ralli in Finland earlier in the month. Briton Ingram is contesting Turkey’s gravel-based world championship qualifier this week, while Kreim has added to his limited gravel knowledge with a loose-surface test under the expert guidance of team boss Raimund Baumschlager.

“We will arrive with some good preparation but we need to concentrate as much as possible,” said Russian Gryazin. “We will have a big fight with Fabian Kreim and Chris Ingram for the championship so we need to beat them, but they are very fast so that won’t be easy.”

The ERC Junior U28 line-up in Poland also features local stars Tomasz Kasperczyk (Tiger Energy Drink Rally Team), Miko Marczyk (ŠKODA Polska Motorsport) and Łukasz Pieniążek (Printsport). Kasperczyk was on ERC Junior U28 duty on the Azores Airlines Rallye but has focused on his domestic championship since then where Marczyk became a winner on the last round in Lithuania, his first proper gravel event. Pieniążek, meanwhile, is a former frontrunner in ERC Junior U27 and has since graduated to world level. Filip Mareš is another ERC Junior U27 graduate and is set to make his Rally Poland debut after his Kresta Racing mechanics rebuilt his ACCR Czech Rally Team-entered Fabia R5 following a final-stage crash on the last round in his native Czech Republic. Laurent Pellier is also a Rally Poland rookie, the Frenchman armed with a PEUGEOT Rally Academy 208 T16 and eager to impress.

Gravel appeals for ERC Junior U27 leader Sesks
Mārtiņš Sesks
has vowed to be more “calm” when the Pirelli-supported FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship resumes in Poland. Sesks has won the last two asphalt-based rounds of the series in his ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team ADAM R2 to open up a commanding 59-point lead. With gravel the Latvian teen’s favoured surface, Sesks is in a strong position to win the prestigious title ahead of his home event, next month’s Rally Liepāja. “I was born on the kind of roads we’ll have in Poland and Latvia but I need to be calm and not think about the championship situation,” said Sesks. “The main goal for Poland is the same as it was for all other rallies this season: make it to the finish without big mistakes.” While Sesks last rallied on gravel in May, his team-mate Tom Kristensson – currently second in the standings – won his class on the recent East Sweden Rally in his homeland. He’ll also be a contender for victory, as will Rally Team Spain’s RFEDA-backed Efrén Llarena, promising Norwegian Sindre Furuseth and Saintéloc Junior Team’s Miika Hokkanen, last season’s Finnish R2 champion. Like Hokkanen, Dominik Brož will be hoping for better luck after retiring on the last round in Czech Republic, where Italy’s Mattia Vita (TRT Junior Rally Team) equalled his season-best fourth. Catie Munnings has been a regular points-scorer for Saintéloc and will be looking to capitalise on Emma Falcón’s absence by scoring maximum ERC Ladies’ Trophy points. Sebastian Johansson makes his second ERC Junior U27 appearance on his preferred gravel surface. Polish 2WD champion Kacper Wróblewski makes his category debut in a Rallytechnology-run PEUGEOT 208 R2 but will put gaining experience ahead of setting rapid stage times. “This will be only my third gravel rally in my life,” he said. “I'm very happy and glad that we have an opportunity to start in it. I am incredibly excited about this fact and hope to finish and have lots of fun.”

Magalhães: Lukyanuk deserves ERC title
Bruno Magalhães says Alexey Lukyanuk will be a deserving champion if the Russian can put the prestigious FIA European Rally Championship title beyond doubt on Rally Poland. Magalhães has pushed Lukyanuk all season but doesn’t have the full funds needed to complete his campaign, leaving Lukyanuk on the brink of becoming the first Russian to land the overall ERC title spoils. “If I cannot be the champion I am very happy Lukyanuk will be the champion,” said SEAJETS-backed Magalhães. “He’s shown during the whole year he’s the fastest driver. He’s also a very nice person. All the time we have a good atmosphere between us. Even last year when, unfortunately, we crashed in the same tree in Latvia he was very sympathetic with me when I was in the hospital.” Lukyunak has taken three wins from a possible six in 2018 in the Russian Performance Motorsport Ford Fiesta R5 he shares with co-driver Alexey Arnautov but has never competed in Mikołajki before. Poland’s Łukasz Habaj (eSky Rally Team) will make his second start in a ŠKODA Fabia R5 after switching from a Ford Fiesta equivalent. Compatriot Grzegorz Grzyb was on the podium on his last ERC appearance in Italy in July for Rufa Sport but is better known for his Tarmac-driving prowess. Four-time Hungarian champion Norbert Herczig will complete his six-event ERC schedule for the MOL Racing Team. He has two podiums to his name and has the possibility to finish in the championship’s top three. Turkey’s Orhan Avcioglu will skip his country’s round of the world championship, which takes place this week, to make his Rally Poland debut and avoid jeopardising his maiden ERC campaign. Istanbul-based Avcioglu is embarking on a full-season European championship programme in 2018 with Toksport WRT as he builds his experience of all events on the calendar ahead of a planned concerted assault on the series in 2019.

ERC Junior U27 graduate Huttunen in Hyundai for Poland
Jari Huttunen, last year’s FIA ERC Junior Under 27 runner-up, will be back on European championship duty in Poland – only this time he’ll be R5-powered. Having won in R2 machinery last season – including in the Pirelli-supported ERC Junior U27 category on Poland’s Rally Rzeszow – Huttunen was chosen for the Hyundai Motorsport Driver development Program (HMDP) for 2018. As well as selected tests and world championship rallies, Huttunen’s schedule includes the ERC-counting PZM Rally Poland in a Hyundai i20 R5 when he will go up against a number of fellow ERC Junior U27 graduates. “Rally Poland is an important event as part of my HMDP campaign,” said the 24-year-old Finn. “Not only does it help to give me more time in the car, but the gravel surface makes it a very good warm-up event for Rally GB a few weeks later. It will be my first event on gravel since Rally Finland, so hopefully we can show the same level of performance as we did there, and come away with a similar result.” Huttunen placed second in class on his home round of the world championship in July and was also on form when he tackled the gravel-based Rally Estonia earlier in the month, finishing fifth in an i20 R5. With both events featuring high-speed gravel stages similar to PZM Rally Poland, Huttunen is expected to be among the frontrunners when action begins in Mikołajki next Friday.

All eyes on Subaru Poland Rally Team’s home talent in ERC2
The battle for this season’s ERC2 title was settled in Tibor Érdi Jr’s favour on the last event, Barum Czech Rally Zlín, after the Hungarian was able to move out of reach of his closest challenger and fellow Mitsubishi Lancer driver, Sergei Remennik from Russia. That will leave the focus on Subaru Poland Rally Team’s Marcin Słobodzian. The ex-hillclimb driver and circuit racer makes his second ERC start for the outfit that guided his compatriot Wojciech Chuchała to the ERC2 crown in 2016. Despite his limited experience on gravel, Słobodzian won his class on the previous Polish championship round, which he hopes will give him an edge on Poland’s ERC qualifier. “I can't wait to try my best on those iconic and very fast roads,” said Słobodzian, 26. “We have already won our title in the Polish championship so now we can try to push a little more and have good fun.”

And in other news…
*Popular Brazilian Paulo Nobre will make his Rally Poland debut for Motorsport Italia keen to add to the points he scored on gravel in Greece earlier this season.
*Having been an ever-present in the ERC since embarking on his full-time rallying career in 2017, Albert von Thurn und Taxis has elected to skip Rally Poland due to back trouble but plans to return to action on the season-closing Rally Liepāja.
*Jarosław Kołtun makes his first ERC start since he crashed into retirement on the Azores Airlines Rallye in March. His compatriot Dariusz Poloński was a regular in ERC3 last year but now drives a Ford Fiesta R5 in the top-level ERC1 category. Szymon Ruta has 16 ERC starts to his name, while his co-driver Kamil Heller guided Filip Nivette to last season’s Polish crown.
*Romanian Simone Tempestini will try out his Fiat 124 Abarth RGT on gravel for the first time. He was in action on the last Rally Poland to count for ERC points in 2013.
*American co-driver Alex Kihurani will be back in the ERC – albeit not registered for points – having competed regularly in ERC Junior in 2014. He will partner Sean Johnston in an Opel ADAM R2.
*Jakub Brzeziński tops the national rally entry in a ŠKODA Fabia R5 as he bids to win his first outright Polish championship.

The post Event preview: Gryazin and Ingram the Kreim fighters as ERC Junior U28 battle intensifies in Poland appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Avcioglu is Poland ERC-bound as head rules heart

Thu, 09/13/2018 - 06:00

Turkey’s Orhan Avcioglu will skip his country’s round of the world championship to avoid jeopardising his maiden FIA European Rally Championship campaign.

Istanbul-based Avcioglu is embarking on a full-season ERC bid in 2018 as he builds his experience of all events on the calendar ahead of a planned concerted assault on the championship in 2019.

Rally Turkey Marmaris, which Avcioglu won when it counted as a world candidate event and round of the FIA Balkan Rally Trophy in 2017, takes place from today (13 September) with PZM Rally Poland following from 21-23 September.

The Toksport WRT driver explained his decision. “I sacrificed my home event for Poland and the ERC. Once we commit to a series we would like to try to be good there and I am trying to do all of the events [in the ERC] so I get a good knowledge and have the experience for next year.

“Obviously I would really want to participate [in Turkey] but to do it back-to-back [with Poland] would require a huge budget. The budget for Turkey on its own is already quite high and to do it and Poland the following week would require even more resources from our side.

“We are on a fairly tight budget to try to do the whole European championship. Thinking about next year and thinking about the future [it’s] the right decision to go to Poland because you never know what I may need next year in terms of points and championship position.

“Emotionally we wanted to excuse ourselves from Poland and try to show what a local hero can do in Turkey but there is always next year for Marmaris.”

While Avcioglu won’t be competing in Turkey he will be on hand to support his British team-mate Chris Ingram, who is contesting the event in Toksport’s third ŠKODA Fabia R5.

It will be the ERC Junior Under 27 champion and ERC Junior Under 28 title contender’s first world championship outing in an R5 car and will provide useful gravel experience for Ingram – whose first and last loose-surface outing in the Czech machine was on the ERC season-opening Azores Airlines Rallye in March – ahead of Rally Poland.

The post Avcioglu is Poland ERC-bound as head rules heart appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Magalhães plots 2019 ERC return

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 22:00

SEAJETS-backed Bruno Magalhães is getting over the disappointment of missing out on a PZM Rally Poland entry by announcing plans to return to the FIA European Rally Championship in 2019 with ARC Sport.

Magalhães, who has challenged for the coveted title for two seasons running, has been unable to secure the full funding necessary to compete on the all-gravel event next week and also expects to sit out the Rally Liepāja finale in October as a result.

“It’s a big disappointment because I would like to finish the season and, of course, try to fight for the title,” said the winner of this year’s EKO Acropolis Rally. “Making two years trying to find the money race-by-race is very difficult. After 14 rallies in a row I knew that one day it was not possible [to find the budget] and this is the day it’s not possible to continue.

“My mind and my focus now is on next year. I am going to try to continue in ERC because it’s the championship l love. The last two years were the best of my career and I achieved very important results. It was a very, very good atmosphere in these two years and I am going to do everything I can to continue, so I am focused now on 2019. Even this morning I was [sending proposals] to companies about next year.”

The post Magalhães plots 2019 ERC return appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Exciting entry for Rally Poland’s ERC comeback

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 21:00

Leading drivers from the FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship will be aiming to prove their talent when the 75th PZM Rally Poland hosts the penultimate event of the season next week (21-23 September).

Organisers of the all-gravel spectacular have revealed an exciting entry of almost 60 cars with eight drivers contesting ERC Junior U28, the category for young stars in R5 cars.

They include championship leader Fabian Kreim (pictured), fellow event winners Nikolay Gryazin and Chris Ingram, Filip Mareš, plus top local talents Tomasz Kasperczyk, Miko Marczyk and Łukasz Pieniazek.

Alexey Lukyanuk, who heads the overall European championship standings after six rounds, is the top seed, while title pacesetter Mārtiņš Sesks is one of 13 Pirelli-equipped drivers entered in ERC Junior U27.

National champions past and present on the entry list include Grzegorz Grzyb, Łukasz Habaj and Norbert Herczig. Turkey’s Orhan Avcioglu is skipping his home round of the world championship to continue his promising season-long ERC campaign.

Subaru Poland Rally Team’s Marcin Słobodzian will be the driver to watch in ERC2, while Emma Falcón and Catie Munnings will battle for ERC Ladies’ Trophy honours.

Click here to view the full ERC entry list, which remains subject to FIA approval.

The post Exciting entry for Rally Poland’s ERC comeback appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

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PZM 75. Rajd Polski / PZM 75th Rally Poland

PZM 75th Rally Poland

2018 Calendar

22-24 March

Azores Airlines Rallye (Portugal)

3-5 May

Rally Islas Canarias (Spain)

1-3 June

Acropolis Rally (Greece)

15-17 June

Cyprus Rally (Cyprus)

0-22 July

Rally di Roma Capitale (Italy)

24-26 August

Barum Czech Rally Zlín (Czech Republic)

21-23 September

Rally Poland

12-14 October

Rally Liepaja (Lativa)