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Habaj: no room for mistakes on ERC Cyprus Rally

12 hours 2 min ago

Łukasz Habaj says there will be “no room for mistakes” when the three-way title fight for FIA European Rally Championship title glory continues in Cyprus this week.

Habaj was the early ERC title pacesetter following his breakthrough Azores Rallye victory in March. Although he no longer tops the table, the Pole is a mere 10 points adrift of leader Chris Ingram with two events remaining.

“Every rally is exciting but this one will be special because it will be my first time and of course it is very important for our fight for the title,” said the Sports Racing Technologies driver. “The season is at its highest moment. There is no room for any mistakes.”

While Habaj is a Cyprus Rally rookie, he’s more than aware of the challenge ahead.

“I know it is a very hot island and that organisers have brought back some stages driven when the Cyprus Rally used to be a world championship event, so I expect them to be extremely rough and tough for us and for our car.

“We are extremely focused and motivated and keep working hard to be as effective as possible. The second part of the season was not as good as first so far but I hope Cyprus will bring back the fortune. In the past it was quite lucky rally for Polish drivers.”

Krzysztof Hołowczyc is the only Pole to have won the Cyprus Rally, although Kajetan Kajetanowicz has two Cyprus podiums to his name.

The post Habaj: no room for mistakes on ERC Cyprus Rally appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Cyprus Rally reference Al-Attiyah up for ERC success

Sun, 09/22/2019 - 06:00

Nasser Al-Attiyah starts the Cyprus Rally next week firmly in the hunt for a record-extending sixth victory – and the opportunity to cancel out his late Cypriot heartache in 2018.

Qatari Al-Attiyah, who has also won the country’s now-defunct Troodos Rally nine times, was in the lead starting the final stage of last year’s Cyprus Rally only for a puncture to drop him to fourth place and leave local hero Simos Galatariotis to take a maiden home win.

With the Cyprus Rally doubling as a round of the FIA European Rally Championship and FIA Middle East Rally Championship, Al-Attiyah has his sights firmly set on claiming the MERC title for a 14th time, a result that would equal Mohammed Bin Sulayem’s current benchmark.

In addition to his achievements in Cyprus and the MERC, Al-Attiyah is a world title-winning rally driver, former Dakar victor and Olympic Games medallist. He will contest the Cyprus Rally in a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5. Frenchman Matthieu Baumel will co-drive.

Photo: Volkswagen Motorsport

The post Cyprus Rally reference Al-Attiyah up for ERC success appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Ingram ‘overwhelmed’ after mother’s crowd-funding bid ensures Cyprus ERC outing

Sat, 09/21/2019 - 06:00

Chris Ingram has described the support he has received to continue his FIA European Rally Championship title bid as “overwhelming and humbling”.

Ingram was left fearing his challenge to become the first Briton since Vic Elford in 1967 to win the coveted FIA title was over when he lost out on the FIA ERC1 Junior prize fund 100,000 euros prize fund after Filip Mareš beat him to the title* for young stars in R5 cars.

That defeat – by a scant margin of 0.3s on Mareš’ home event – left Ingram with a major financial shortfall for next week’s Cyprus Rally with Toksport WRT.

But a crowd-funding campaign, launched by his mother Jo, has raised just enough money for Ingram to contest the penultimate event of the season, which the 25-year-old will start with a one-point lead over defending champion Alexey Lukyanuk, after a number of Czech fans and drivers made online contributions.

“The support has been overwhelming and humbling and I am so grateful to everyone who has supported us to get to Cyprus,” said Ingram. “To have so much support from the Czech fans after our great battle with Filip Mareš on the Barum Rally just shows there are some fantastic people in this sport and the rally community is the best.”

Ingram will be a Cyprus Rally rookie when the event takes place from 27-29 September.

The post Ingram ‘overwhelmed’ after mother’s crowd-funding bid ensures Cyprus ERC outing appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

ERC event preview: Cyprus Rally

Fri, 09/20/2019 - 10:00

One of the toughest events on the international motorsport calendar takes place at one of the most exciting times in the recent history of the FIA European Rally Championship next week.

Essentials
What: FIA European Rally Championship round 7 of 8*
When: 27-29 September 2019
Where: Nicosia, Cyprus
Stages: 12
Distance: 199.76 kilometres
Surface: Gravel with some asphalt sections
ERC appearances (since 2004 restructuring): 5 (2014-2018)

*Also counting for: ERC2, ERC3, FIA European Rally Championship for Teams, ERC Nations’ Cup, ERC Ladies’ Trophy

Recent winners:
2018: Simos Galatariotis/Antonios Ioannou (ŠKODA Fabia R5)
2017: Nasser Al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel (Ford Fiesta R5)
2016: Alexey Lukyanuk/Alexey Arnautov (Ford Fiesta R5)
2015: Nasser Al-Attiyah/Matthieu Baumel (Ford Fiesta R5)
2014: Yazeed Al-Rajhi/Michael Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC)

Overview
One of the toughest events on the international motorsport calendar takes place at one of the most exciting times in the recent history of the FIA European Rally Championship next week.

With two 2019 rounds remaining and three drivers locked in the fight for the coveted title, the Cyprus Rally in Nicosia from 27-29 September marks a potentially decisive point of the all-action ERC season.

Chris Ingram (Toksport WRT) heads defending champion Alexey Lukyanuk (Saintéloc Junior Team) by one point with Łukasz Habaj (Sports Racing Technologies) 10 points shy of Ingram, who is bidding to become the second ERC champion from Great Britain since Vic Elford triumphed in 1967.

While Habaj and Ingram will be Cyprus Rally rookies when they are flagged over the start ramp on Larnaca’s seafront next Friday evening (27 September), their lack of experience compared to rival Lukyanuk – who won the event in 2016 – is offset by a route revamp for this year.

By switching the event’s base from Larnaca in the south back to Nicosia towards the north, organisers have been able to include some of the semi-mountainous stages around the country’s capital with two stages not used since 2009 returning to the fold. But while some of the stages will be new to the bulk of the ERC crews, the intense heat, punishing, rock-strewn roads – some with asphalt sections – will continue to create a hugely tough test for car and crew.

Although the pulsating ERC title battle will grab the limelight in Cyprus, the entry list is full of intrigue, not least because of the inclusion of sporting all-rounder Nasser Al-Attiyah and former factory World Rally Championship driver Mikko Hirvonen. But while Al-Attiyah will be chasing a record-extending sixth Cyprus Rally win (he also won the country’s now-defunct Troodos Rally nine times), Hirvonen is competing with the sole intention of “having fun” in a Ford Fiesta R5 run by Markko Märtin’s MM-Motorsport team.

Simos Galatariotis became the first local driver since Nicos Thomas in 2008 to claim victory on the Cyprus Rally when he triumphed on last year’s event, albeit by a slender margin of 0.6s. His success put him on a list of winners that includes rallying heavyweights such as Stig Blomqvist, Marcus Grönholm, Sébastien Loeb, Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz, Petter Solberg, Ari Vatanen and Björn Waldegård. Several title-winning drivers will also be in action on the Cyprus Rally, while the ERC2 and ERC3 categories are well supported.

Twelve stages – including the mixed-surface Nicosia superspecial – over a competitive distance of 199.76 kilometres are in store as the start of the 48th Cyprus Rally – which counts for FIA ERC, FIA Middle East and Cypriot championship points – gets ever closer.

Cyprus Rally in 100 words
The Cyprus Rally has put car and crew to a significant test since 1970. And while the current format is a little less taxing than it once was, underestimating the challenging nature of this rallying heavyweight is a big mistake. Although fundamentally a gravel rally, some Tarmac sections feature, while punishing ambient and ground temperatures are a factor. Returning to Nicosia for 2019 has resulted in mountain stages around the capital being revived. The street stage through the United Nations-controlled Buffer Zone between Nicosia’s Greek Cypriot and Turkish inhabited areas continues remains on the combined ERC and Middle East rally.

What’s new for 2019?
Having run in June last season, this year’s Cyprus Rally takes place in September for the first time since 2015. Nicosia takes over from Larnaca as host of the service park, headquarters and media centre, which has resulted in semi-mountainous stages around the capital being included, some of which have been absent from the itinerary since 2009. However, Larnaca continues to host the start and finish ceremonies.

Changes to the ERC for 2019 include the renaming of the ERC Junior categories: ERC Junior Under 28 becomes ERC1 Junior, ERC Junior U27 becomes ERC3 Junior with continued support from Pirelli. R4-K and RGT cars are eligible for ERC2 points, the Abarth Rally Cup will be contested over six ERC rounds, while Rally Hungary joins the calendar for the first time as the deciding round in November.

Talking points
*Chris Ingram’s Cyprus Rally participation was made possible after his mother, Jo, launched a crowd-funding campaign. The Briton is one of four drivers representing the Toksport WRT outfit, which also features Rakan Al-Rashed from Saudi Arabia, Chilean Emilio Fernández and Turkey’s Orhan Avcioglu.
*Defending European champion Alexey Lukyanuk has experienced a love/hate relationship with the Cyprus Rally. After winning in 2016, the Russian crashed his Ford Fiesta R5 in 2018, on what was his 100thrally. He returns this year in a Citroën C3 R5.
*Although the Cyprus Rally is unchartered territory for ERC title contender Łukasz Habaj, the Pole has contested the Acropolis Rally in Greece in the past, which, like Cyprus is an event characterised by high ambient temperatures and rugged terrain.
*Nasser Al-Attiyah, a word title-winning rally driver, former Dakar victor and Olympic Games medallist, will be out for revenge in Cyprus: he was leading starting the final stage of last year’s event only for a puncture to drop him to fourth place. That left local hero Simos Galatariotis to take a maiden home win.
*Al-Attiyah’s fellow Qatari, Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, has claimed two podiums in the Middle East championship this season, his first rallying campaign since 2016.
*Ex-GT racer and 2018 Austrian rally champion Niki Mayr-Melnhof is using his Cyprus Rally debut as a prelude to a full ERC campaign in 2020. Meanwhile, Albert von Thurn und Taxis, another ex-GT driver, finished fifth on his first Cyprus Rally in 2017.
*Brazilian Paulo Nobre contested Turkey’s world championship counter earlier this month to warm up for the Cyprus Rally, which he’ll contest in his familiar Palmeirinha Rally-run Fabia.
*Tibor Érdi Jr, the double ERC2 champion from Hungary, made his only start in Cyprus back in 2015 but ended up at the bottom of a ravine after going off the road. He returns this year aiming for his first European championship points since switching to a top-of-the-range ŠKODA Fabia R5.
*Compatriot Norbert Herczig, a winner of his national title four times, finished third in Cyprus last season. The MOL Racing Team ace is back this year in a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
*Mikko Hirvonen, a factory driver for Citroën and Ford in the World Rally Championship, has two Cyprus Rally podiums to his name. The Finn is making a shock, but purely for fun, ERC appearance on an event he has likened to the Dakar Rally, which he’s tackled on three occasions.
*Czech Tomáš Kurka and Cypriots Andreas Psaltis and Panayiotis Yiangou, who competes in a Hyundai i20 R5, complete the ERC1 class contingent.
*Argentina’s Juan Carlos Alonso will continue his bid for ERC2 title glory in Cyprus where his opposition will include Kuwait driver Mshari Althefiri, Russian Dmitry Feofanov, plus Cypriot trio Antonis Chilimindris, Louis Papageorgiou and Petros Panteli, the ERC2 class winner in 2018.
*The Peugeot Rally Academy has recruited ERC3 Junior ace Efrén Llarena for what will be the Spaniard’s Cyprus Rally debut.
*Ex-downhill mountain bike champion Erik Cais is set to take the fight to Llarena in his ACCR Czech Rally Team-entered Ford Fiesta R2T for what will also be his first Cyprus start.
*Florian Bernardi, another ERC3 contender and Cyprus rookie, will be in action in his familiar Renault Clio R3T as he continues to build his limited loose-surface experience.
*Christos Mannouris and Konstantinos Televantos will fly the Cypriot flag in ERC3, while Orhan Avcioglu is making his third ERC3 start following his European championship comeback in the summer.

Head to head: Cais v Llarena
Erik Cais (Czech Republic) and Efrén Llarena (Spain) were among the frontrunners in this season’s Pirelli-supported FIA ERC3 Junior Championship with the support of their respective ASNs. After impressing in ERC3 Junior, both will continue their bids for ERC3 title glory on the Cyprus Rally, which they’ll both be contesting for the first time.

Form guide: Nasser Al-Attiyah
With a record five Cyprus Rally wins (plus nine on the now defunct Troodos Rally, previously a Middle East championship qualifier), Nasser Al-Attiyah is traditionally the driver to beat on the Cyprus Rally, which he’ll contest this year in a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.

How to follow?
On TV and online: Live coverage of selected stages on Facebook. Daily highlights on Eurosport, Eurosport Player. Videos on YouTube. ERC All Access on Eurosport on 1 October. Event highlights broadcast around the world.
Videos, news update and live timing: Available at FIAERC.com
ERC Radio: Live from the end of all stages and selected service park visits. Available at FIAERC.com or download the official ERC App
Social media: Follow the ERC on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
Daily news feed: Available on request by emailing media@fiaerc.com

Five facts:
1: The Cyprus Rally’s origins date back to 1970 when Victor Zachariades won in a Fiat 125. Although he didn't take part, 1967 ERC champion Vic Elford formed part of the route-planning team.
2: While Nasser Al-Attiyah is the rally’s most successful driver with five victories, other winners include Stig Blomqvist, Marcus Grönholm, Sébastien Loeb, Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz, Petter Solberg, Ari Vatanen, Björn Waldegård and current European championship leader Alexey Lukyanuk, who took top honours in 2016.
3: There have been 10 ‘home’ winners of the Cyprus Rally since the first edition in 1970. Prior to Simos Galatariotis and Antonios Ioannou winning in 2018 by 0.6s in a dramatic final-stage decider, Nicos Thomas and Spiros Georgiou were the last Cypriot pair to triumph back in 2008.
4: The Cyprus Rally has formed part of the ERC calendar in its various formats since 1978. From 2014 it’s been ever-present on the European roster when the event was based in Nicosia after a spell in Pafos.
5: Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean behind Sicily and Sardinia. There are 380 rural villages in the republic, while Mount Olympus in the Troodos Range peaks at 1951 metres.

The post ERC event preview: Cyprus Rally appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Itinerary for ERC Cyprus Rally published

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 06:00

Publication of the Cyprus Rally itinerary has thrown further light on the challenge facing crews contesting the ERC counter next week.

Consisting of 12 stages over a competitive distance of 199.76 kilometres, the 2019 Cyprus Rally is the penultimate event of the FIA European Rally Championship season and takes place from 27-29 September.

While it’s fundamentally a gravel event, 13 per cent of the competitive route uses asphalt stages. Even the Nicosia superspecial stage uses a combination of both surfaces.

Click here to view the full itinerary.

The post Itinerary for ERC Cyprus Rally published appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

ERC gets set for Super Special Stage Saturday in Cyprus

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 06:00

Saturday is Super Special Stage day on the Cyprus Rally with confirmation that the ground-breaking contest in the country’s capital Nicosia will once again feature on the event itinerary.

SSS Nicosia runs over a distance of 3.52 kilometres on a combination of asphalt and gravel roads.

From 17h07 local time on Saturday 28 September, crews will head off from the start on Omirou Avenue with the finish outside the District Courts of Nicosia. Along the way, crews head through the United Nations’ Buffer Zone, which divides Cyprus from Northern Cyprus.

Organisers have created a number of spectator viewing points and have worked extensively with the police and local authorities to minimise traffic delays caused by the road closures.

Recent SSS Nicosia winners
2018: Dávid Botka/Márk Mesterházi (ŠKODA Fabia R5)
2017: Nasser Al-Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel (Ford Fiesta R5)
2016: Alexey Lukyanuk/Alexey Arnautov (Ford Fiesta R5)

The post ERC gets set for Super Special Stage Saturday in Cyprus appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Kajetanowicz goes from ERC champion to world-beater

Tue, 09/17/2019 - 06:00

Kajetan Kajetanowicz, the three-time winner of the FIA European Rally Championship, is now a winner at world level following his class triumph on Rally Turkey last weekend.

Competing under the LOTOS Rally Team banner, it was Kajetanowicz’s first success in the FIA World Rally Championship 2 category, his fourth podium in five starts and his third in succession. The result also put him at the top of the division standings with three rounds remaining in 2019.

“It's a fantastic feeling, we deserved to win,” said Kajetanowicz, who was co-driven by compatriot Maciej Szczepaniak. “We still have to work very hard to make it happen again. It was very difficult. It wasn't an easy rally for our families as well. Thank you for your support to my girls, because the rallies are demanding. I'm not just talking about the household budget, but also about commitment, understanding and tolerance.

“Rallies are unpredictable, especially rallies like this one. Rally Turkey was unrewarding for many crews, and it didn't treat us well either. The last two stages were driven only with rear-wheel drive. I'm very happy that we worked out a significant lead before the last day. That was enough! We managed to win.”

Kajetanowicz claimed a record European championship title hat-trick between 2015-2017 before stepping up to world level in 2018. The ERC is an established platform of progression for drivers aiming to climb from national to world level. The Cyprus Rally hosts the penultimate round of this season’s title battle from 27-29 September.

Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi, the driver Kajetanowicz succeeded as FIA European champion, finished second overall in Turkey.

Photo: Kajto.pl

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Former winners prepare to chase more Cyprus ERC glory

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 06:00

The last three winners of the Cyprus Rally will all be in action when the country’s FIA European Rally Championship counter takes place from 27-29 September.

Simos Galatariotis (pictured), who bagged a sensational victory by 0.6s in 2018, is contesting his home event where his opposition will include the five-time Cyprus Rally winner Nasser Al-Attiyah – who last triumphed in 2017 – and 2016 victor Alexey Lukyanuk, the defending ERC champion.

And to make the battle even more intriguing, all three will compete in different types of car with Galatariotis at the wheel of a ŠKODA Fabia R5, Al-Attiyah driving a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 and Lukyanuk relying on Citroën C3 R5 power.

Photo: Cyprus Rally

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Co-driving an ERC champion. By Grégoire Munster

Sun, 09/15/2019 - 06:00

ERC Junior Grégoire Munster switched from driving to co-driving when he partnered former FIA European champion and rallying legend Patrick Snijers on the recent Omloop van Vlaanderen in their native Belgium.

While the result wasn’t quite what was hoped for after they retired their Porsche 997 GT3 with a suspension issue nearing the finish, the experience will be one to savour according to the Munster, who drove for the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team in the Pirelli-supported FIA ERC3 Junior Championship this season.

“In the past I had also read the pacenotes for my father during a historic rally,” said Munster. “I must admit that it went a fair bit faster than in those days. On top of that I needed to read the pacenotes in Dutch. That was a question of adapting, but I do find it important to be able to read and understand the notes in two languages. I’m taking that on board together with the making of new pace notes and bringing structure to your work.”

Meanwhile, Munster, who wasn't even born when Snijers won the ERC title in 1994, cannot be beaten to this year's Belgian Junior title.

Photo: BMA Autosport

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Thrilling battle expected in ERC2

Sat, 09/14/2019 - 06:00

A thrilling battle is expected in the ERC2 category when the Cyprus Rally hosts the penultimate round of the 2019 FIA European Rally Championship later this month.

Six drivers will chase success in the showroom category headed by championship leader Juan Carlos Alonso from Argentina (pictured).

Home hero Petros Panteli is also in action having won ERC2 on last year’s event, while Mshari Althefiri and Dmitry Feofanov showed promise on their ERC2 outings earlier this year.

Antonis Chilimintris and fellow Cypriot Louis Papageorgiou complete the list of runners with Papageorgiou the only non-Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X driver, instead relying on the older Evolution IX model.

The Nicosia-based Cyprus Rally takes place from 27-29 September using mainly gravel stages.

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Mayr-Melnhof can’t wait to Drift some more in the ERC

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 06:00

Austrian champion Niki Mayr-Melnhof has the future in mind ahead of the Cyprus Rally from 27-29 September.

Mayr-Melnhof is targeting a full FIA European Rally Championship campaign in 2020 and views the challenging gravel event as “perfect preparation” for next season.

“It is one of the most demanding gravel events in the whole world, we would like to do the whole season next year and it will therefore be a perfect preparation for 2020,” he explained. “We take this year to get experience in the ERC and learn as much as we can for next season. I also love driving on gravel, so we are really looking forward to having some fun.”

Having only switched to rallying from GT racing three years ago, Mayr-Melnhof admits he has plenty to learn on both gravel and asphalt, let alone the former surface. “The [gravel-based] Schneebergland Rallye is part of the Austrian championship and is super tough and difficult. We managed to win it last year and hopefully we will do some proper testing on a few of the stages before the Cyprus Rally.

“The main aim will be to finish the rally and get as much data and experience for next year. We would love to take some points, but realistically we would be happy if we finish the rally at our first attempt.”

Mayr-Melnhof drives a previous-generation Ford Fiesta R5 run by The Drift Company. He hopes to upgrade to the latest-specification Fiesta R5 in time for the ERC season-deciding Rally Hungary from 8-10 November.

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Érdi hoping for better ERC memories from Cyprus

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 06:00

Tibor Érdi Jr, the two-time winner of the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC2 category, wants to leave Cyprus with good rather than bad memories.

The Hungarian’s only start in the Mediterranean country came in 2015 but ended abruptly some distance from the road on the third stage of the challenging gravel event.

"It will be a big challenge to participate on this event again because my memories are not the best, due to falling into a 11-metre deep ravine in 2015,” said Érdi Jr, who now competes in a ŠKODA Fabia R5 in the ERC’s top tier.“Anyway, I liked the stages they are really nice, but we wanted to save our Evo X from extreme high temperatures and rough surface, this is why we skipped the rally since then. Now, however, I am entering the race with a different co-driver and different car, but I think it will be the same difficult level as it was in 2015.

“Overall, I really wish to achieve a good result, because we couldn't get a single point in the championship since I drive my ŠKODA. I think it can be possible to reach that goal in Cyprus this year, because I feel more confident on gravel with this car. I would be satisfied to finish in top10 after a good rally."

The Cyprus Rally is based in Nicosia from 27-29 September.

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Watch ERC ace Habaj being a hero at home

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 06:00

Łukasz Habaj switched from four- to two-wheel drive when he contested his home event, the Polish championship-counting Rajd Śląska, last weekend.

Habaj, a winner in this season’s FIA European Rally Championship rekindled old memories from his early career by swapping his ŠKODA Fabia R5 for a Fiat Seicento Abarth.

“If you had such a cute little kit car in your garage and a home rally with special stages 1000 metres from your home wouldn’t you participate?” said Habaj. “It was just for pure fun and of course a great training for me [because it’s a] very demanding car to drive. We dragged a lot of media and spectator attention and hope we gave them a lot of positive emotions.”

Onboard camera footage of Habaj competing on his Fiat on Rajd Śląska is available by clicking here.

Find out more from Habaj ahead of the Cyprus Rally, where he will form part of a three-way title fight, by visiting FIAERC.com.

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Hirvonen up for Cyprus ERC fun in the sun

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 17:00

Mikko Hirvonen will contest the Cyprus Rally, the penultimate round of the 2019 FIA European Rally Championship, from 27-29 September.

A four-time runner-up in the world championship, Hirvonen will compete in a Ford Fiesta R5 run by Markko Märtin’s MM-Motorsport team. His fellow Finn Jarno Ottman will co-drive.

“I have fond memories of the Cyprus Rally from the world championship, having finished twice on the podium,” said the 39-year-old. “But the podium will be the last thing on my mind when I return later this month because this is about having fun on a challenging rally.

“I always enjoyed visiting Cyprus and there’s a bit of a ‘Dakar’ feel to some of the stages. Having contested the Dakar three times, I like this kind of challenge, which is more about driving with a bit strategy rather than going flat out.

“I’ve known Markko Märtin for a long time and Cyprus is a great place to go to this time of year. It’s a well-organised and demanding event.”

Hirvonen, who made five ERC appearances prior to his step up to world level, prepared for the Cyprus Rally with an outing on the all-gravel Lõuna-Eesti Ralli earlier this month.

“Although I’m not going to be paying too much attention to my stage times in Cyprus, I said to Markko I’d prefer to have some knowledge of the Fiesta and his team before Cyprus. Doing the event in Estonia was good practice and it was actually quite useful because we had a small technical problem that could easily have occurred in Cyprus had we not found it in Estonia.”

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ERC drivers on form on national rallies

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 06:00

Miko Marczyk further underlined his growing reputation by clinching the Polish championship title on Rajd Śląska last weekend.

Marczyk (pictured), who finished third in ERC1 Junior on PZM 76th Rally Poland earlier this season and is hopeful of a full-time step up to the championship in 2020, beat former ERC1 Junior Tomasz Kasperczyk by 13.7s.

Driving a ŠKODA Polska Motorsport Fabia R5, it was Marczyk’s third Polish championship win of 2019, securing his first national title after finishing as runner-up to multiple ERC podium-finisher Grzegorz Grzyb last year.

Elsewhere, Yohan Rossel, who has represented the Peugeot Rally Academy in ERC3 in 2019, won the Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine in his native France, his third victory in his national Tarmac championship this season.

Meanwhile, Steve Røkland, a podium finisher in the Pirelli-supported ERC3 Junior category this season, won his class on Rally Tron in Norway, as ERC Junior Experience graduate Sébastien Bedoret took victory on the Omloop van Vlaanderen, the latest round of the Belgian championship.

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Excited and happy Stratieva continues ERC comeback adventure in Cyprus

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 12:00

Ekaterina Stratieva will continue her FIA European Rally Championship return on the Cyprus Rally later this month.

The 2015 ERC Ladies’ Trophy winner finished second in class on her Barum Czech Rally Zlín comeback last month.

Although she harboured ambitions of tackling more events, she admits the prospect of competing on the Cyprus Rally, which takes place from 27-29 September, was just a dream until main partner Petrol stepped forward.

“I feel so excited and happy,” said the Bulgarian. “The Cyprus Rally will be a big challenge because it’s an unknown race for me and I don’t have so much experience on gravel. I always wanted to participate on this rally but without my partners from Petrol it would have stayed in my dreams.

“Like in Zlín I will have the honour to start with a Peugeot 208 R2, but this time from Saintéloc Racing. I always secretly dreamed and hoped to have a really great team like this to stand behind me. I will trust fully their competence and experience to help me with set-up suggestions for the car on the gravel roads.”

Stratieva has not competed on gravel since 2014 when she took part on the ERC counters in Azores, Greece and Latvia. Her co-driver, Georgi Avramov, meanwhile, has never rallied on a loose-surface event before.

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Peugeot Rally Academy opportunity for Llarena gives co-driver Fernandez ERC3 title chance

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 09:00

Efrén Llarena’s co-driver Sara Fernández will get the opportunity to push for the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC3 Co-Drivers’ title following the Peugeot Rally Academy’s decision to enter them on the upcoming Cyprus Rally.

With Fernández co-driving, Llarena won the Pirelli-supported FIA ERC3 Junior Championship subject to confirmation of the results by the governing body. However, with no co-driver title awarded in the young-driver class, Fernández feared she would miss out on title silverware this year, assuming the Spanish pair’s current ERC3 points total is surpassed during the two remaining rounds, which are not part of the ERC3 Junior schedule.

However, Llarena and Fernández will now transfer from the leading Spanish Mavisa Sport team to the Saintéloc Racing-run Peugeot Rally Academy for the Cyprus Rally, a mainly gravel event based in Nicosia from 27-29 September and the penultimate round of the 2019 ERC season.

Fernández, 11 points in front of Kauri Pannas in the ERC3 Co-Drivers’ standings after six rounds, said: “My job was to co-drive Efrén to the ERC3 Junior title. With that mission accomplished subject to the results being confirmed, I really wanted to get my own trophy. Thanks to the Peugeot Rally Academy I now have that opportunity, so I thank them for the trust.”

Llarena, who has been supported by Spanish federation RFEDA’s Rallye Team Spain initiative since winning his country’s Junior R2 title in 2017, added: “Firstly I am really grateful to the Peugeot Rally Academy for this fantastic opportunity to represent it on the Cyprus Rally and to build my experience on what I know will be a very demanding event. I am also really pleased for Sara. I have achieved my objective for this season, but Sara has worked so hard and deserves to be recognised for her outstanding ability as a co-driver. I will do all I can to repay Peugeot Rally Academy for the faith it has shown in us and to help Sara win the ERC3 Co-Drivers’ title.”

Spanish pair rewarded for ERC3 Junior success*
Peugeot Rally Academy head Laurent Guyot has explained why he has selected Efrén Llarena and Sara Fernández to represent the long-standing talent platform on the Cyprus Rally.

“We have followed Efrén and Sara’s progress driving the Peugeot 208 R2 for several seasons and we were very impressed with their performances, particularly this year,” said Guyot. “We wanted to recognise this and their potential by giving them the opportunity to represent the Peugeot Rally Academy and to chase the prestigious FIA ERC3 title. The Cyprus Rally is a demanding event on tough stages and in hot temperatures. It will be a great test for them.”

Neither Ken Torn/Kauri Pannas and Sindre Furuseth/Jim Hjerpe are set to compete in Cyprus, which hands the ERC3 title initiative to Llarena and Fernández.

*Subject to confirmation of the results by the FIA

The post Peugeot Rally Academy opportunity for Llarena gives co-driver Fernandez ERC3 title chance appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

What if? ERC title outcomes explained

Sun, 09/08/2019 - 06:00

Three drivers are locked in combat for the 2019 FIA European Rally Championship crown starting the Cyprus Rally from 27-29 September.

Chris Ingram is on top of the table with two rounds remaining after he demoted Alexey Lukyanuk, the defending champion, on the last round, Barum Czech Rally Zlín.

But Briton Ingram’s advantage over Lukyanuk is a slender one point with Poland’s Łukasz Habaj nine points behind the Russian. Of the trio, only Lukyanuk has competed in Cyprus before.

Whoever prevails at the end of the season will write the latest chapter in ERC history, which began in 1953 when Helmut Polensky took the crown for Germany. This is a short explanation of the title outcomes.

Chris Ingram
If the Toksport WRT driver, 25, claimed the title he would become the youngest winner since Esapekka Lappi took the laurels in 2014 as a 23-year-old. While Ingram wouldn’t set a new record as the youngest ERC champion, he would be the first British winner since Vic Elford triumphed way back in 1967. And with legend Elford, now 84, the only ERC champion from the UK so far, Ingram would join a select group of winners.

Alexey Lukyanuk
If the Russian claims back-to-back titles he will join Bernard Darniche (1976-1977), Luca Rossetti (2010-2011) and Kajetan Kajetanowicz (2014-2017) on an illustrious list of successive champions. It would also be the first crown for the French Saintéloc team, which guided Craig Breen to the runner-up spoils in 2015, while Citroën would celebrate a first ERC title since Simon Jean-Joseph secured top honours in 2007.

Łukasz Habaj
If Habaj came out on top in the title race, he would become the fourth Polish European champion following in the wheel tracks of Sobiesław Zasada, Krzysztof Hołowczyc and Kajetan Kajetanowicz, whose third and final ERC crown came in 2017. And if Habaj won to give Poland an eighth ERC title then it would mean another European crown for Latvia-based Sports Racing Technologies, which guided Nikolay Gryazin to ERC1 Junior title success in 2018.

The Cyprus Rally takes place from 27-29 September with Rally Hungary following from 8-10 November. Drivers count their best six scores from a possible eight. Click here to view the standings.

The post What if? ERC title outcomes explained appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Herczig hoping ERC luck changes during Cyprus return

Sat, 09/07/2019 - 06:00

Norbert Herczig is hoping his luck will change when he resumes his FIA European Rally Championship campaign on the Cyprus Rally from 27-29 September.

The four-time Hungarian champion has yet to replicate his podium form of 2018 after a run of bad luck earlier in the season.

However, he impressed on last month’s Barum Czech Rally Zlín and returns to Cyprus – where he finished third last season – with his hopes on the up at the wheel of his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.

“Until this time we are not too lucky this year,” said Herczig. “We had technical problems and sometimes we made some fault as well. Therefore, we would like just a flawless race without any technical problems or racing errors.”

Herczig, who is due to test in Cyprus before the event, has recalled his podium on last year’s event with fondness. “We enjoyed all the rally last year, but if I have to choose one thing than I choose the result,” he said. “We were very lucky because we got a puncture on the last stage but, independently of this, we could be a third overall.”

The post Herczig hoping ERC luck changes during Cyprus return appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Avcioglu: Delicate balance key to Cyprus ERC success

Fri, 09/06/2019 - 18:00

Orhan Avcioglu says a “delicate balance” is needed to be successful on the Cyprus Rally, then penultimate round of the 2019 FIA European Rally Championship.

The former FIA Balkan Trophy winner is contesting the Nicosia-based event for the second time this season. After finishing fifth overall on his debut in 2018 driving a ŠKODA Fabia R5 for Toksport WRT, Avcioglu will be competing in a Toksport-run Peugeot 208 R2 later this month and wary of the challenge that lies ahead.

“It’s really, really hard on the car and really, really hard on the body because of the heat so you need to manage both,” said Avcioglu. “You need to keep electrolytes coming into the body, look after the car and try to see where you are at the end of the first day and push on the second day if you can. It’s a delicate balance.”

After contesting all rounds of the ERC in 2018 in a ŠKODA Fabia R5, budgetary issues have restricted Avcioglu to two appearances only and in an R2-specification car. However, he remains hopeful of a return to the ERC’s top tier in 2020.

The Cyprus Rally takes place from 27-29 September.

The post Avcioglu: Delicate balance key to Cyprus ERC success appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

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PZM 76th Rally Poland - Newsfeed LEG 2

PZM 76. Rajd Polski - Etap 2

Kalendarz 2019

21-23.03.2019:

Azores Airlines Rallye (Portugalia)

02-04.05.2019

Rally Islas Canarias (Hiszpania)

24-26 05.2019

Rally Liepāja (Łotwa)

28-30.06.2019

Rajd Polski

19-21.07.2019

Rally di Roma Capitale (Włochy)

16-18.08.2019

Barum Czech Rally Zlín (Czechy)

27-29.09.2019:

Cyprus Rally (Cypr)

08-10.11.2019:

Rally Hungary (Węgry)