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European Rally Championship
Updated: 51 min 51 sec ago

Wait for the best, says ERC Junior Wagner

Sun, 03/18/2018 - 18:00

Simon Wagner insists that whatever the outcome of the Azores Airlines Rallye this coming week, his best will come later in the season.

Wagner, who is being tipped as a winner of the FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship title at his first year-long attempt, explained that his absence of knowledge of driving his PEUGEOT 208 R2 on gravel could hold him back initially before he gets into his stride later in the campaign.

“Azores could be a very difficult event for us as I haven’t driven that many gravel rallies in my career and it will be the first time with my PEUGEOT 208 R2 on gravel, my first time on gravel with Pirelli tyres and my first time with the Saintéloc Junior Team. I believe the team will help me a lot to make the best out of this rally and help me improve step by step. I am confident we can fight for the title.”

European championship focus: ERC2

Sun, 03/18/2018 - 12:00

Drivers in standard production cars are well catered for in the FIA European Rally Championship courtesy of the ERC2 division. Here’s what you need to know.

Most popular car
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X

Scoring rounds*:
Azores Airlines Rallye, 22-24 March
Rally Islas Canarias, 3-5 May
Acropolis Rally, 1-3 June
Cyprus Rally, 15-17 June
Rally di Roma Capitale, 20-22 July
Barum Czech Rally Zlín, 24-26 August
Rally Poland, 21-23 September
Rally Liepāja, 12-14 October
*New for 2018, drivers count their best four scores from a possible eight

Recent champions
2017: Tibor Érdi Jr (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X)
2016: Wojciech Chuchała (Subaru Impreza STi N15)
2015: Dávid Botka (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX)

Why watch?
ERC2 will be better than ever with new rules reducing the number of scoring rounds from six to four, which has resulted in double the number of all-season competitors signing up for what is expected to be a wide-open and highly anticipated title chase. Tibor Érdi Jr is back to defend his title, 2017 runner-up Zelindo Melegari is armed with a new Subaru Impreza, while Sergei Remennik continues in ERC2 following an impressive rookie season. Juan Carlos Alonso returns following a one-year absence, while Luis Pimentel is also returning after a back injury curtailed his 2017 endeavours. Newcomer Tarik Manderes Okur from Turkey completes the list.

Kasperczyk: ERC Azores Airlines Rallye needs respect

Sun, 03/18/2018 - 06:00

Tomasz Kasperczyk has vowed to show the Azores Airlines Rallye – venue of this season’s FIA European Rally Championship opener – the utmost respect in his efforts to hit back from this 2017 exit.

Kasperczyk was heading for a top 10 on the gravel spectacular almost 12 months ago, only to hit trouble and retire his Tiger Energy Drink Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5.

“You have to respect Azores and tackle the stages with great attention,” said the Pole, a contender for ERC Junior U28 honours. “With ever-changing grip, loose gravel with moist surface under it and many other surprises you need to be 110 per cent sure where you can push and where you can’t.

"Knowing this last year, I kept my cool in order to finish the event without any pointless risks, which almost paid off when we were heading for a top 10 result before we were stopped abruptly with a mechanical failure.

"This year my approach will be no different. I want to finish and get through each stage at a good pace.”

Sesks to overcome nerves in ERC Junior U27

Sat, 03/17/2018 - 18:00

Mārtiņš Sesks admits his lack of knowledge of his Opel ADAM R2 is making him a “little nervous” as he prepares for his Azores Airlines Rallye debut next week.

The Latvian, a product of the ERC Junior Experience training programme, has been handed a dream opportunity for his first full season of FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship action by signing for the triple title-winning ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team.

“I can’t wait to tackle these great roads but I have to admit I am a little nervous as I haven’t completed more than 100 kilometres in the new car so far,” said 18-year-old Sesks. “But I am confident I will adapt quite quickly.

“At the moment we are trying to prepare as thoroughly as we can, by analysing stages and receiving recce training. It will be a blast to really start working with the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team. The most important thing will be to enjoy and finish rally and come home with some good points in the ERC Junior U27 championship.”

Renārs Francis will co-drive his fellow Latvian Sesks in ERC Junior Under 27 this season. The Azores Airlines Rallye takes place from 22-24 March.

European championship focus: ERC3

Sat, 03/17/2018 - 12:00

The FIA European Rally Championship’s category for two-wheel-drive titans is dominated by crews from ERC Junior Under 27 with 11 of the 15 runners on the Azores Airlines Rallye also eligible for the young driver training category. Here’s what you need to know.

Popular cars
Citroën DS3 R3T
Opel ADAM R2
Renault Clio R3T

Scoring rounds*:
Azores Airlines Rallye, 22-24 March
Rally Islas Canarias, 3-5 May
Acropolis Rally, 1-3 June
Cyprus Rally, 15-17 June
Rally di Roma Capitale, 20-22 July
Barum Czech Rally Zlín, 24-26 August
Rally Poland, 21-23 September
Rally Liepāja, 12-14 October
*Drivers count their best six scores from a possible eight

Recent champions
2017: Chris Ingram (Opel ADAM R2)
2016: Chris Ingram (Opel ADAM R2)
2015: Emil Bergkvist (Opel ADAM R2)

Why watch?
ERC3 pitches a number of career-focused talents together for plenty of close competition. Dominik Brož is the top seed in his ACCR Czech Team PEUGEOT 208 R2, while Emma Falcón is one of the leading ERC3 drivers not contesting ERC Junior U27.

Rego chases funds for more ERC Junior runs

Sat, 03/17/2018 - 06:00

Luís Rego doesn’t want next week’s Azores Airlines Rallye to be his only appearance in this season’s FIA European Rally Championship.

The ERC Junior Under 28 contender and Azores resident currently doesn’t have the funding in place to compete away from home soil, making the upcoming European counter in São Miguel even more significant,

“Of course we want to do more so we will try to get a good result and find more sponsors to do more than one rally,” said Rego. “This year is our third in the Ford Fiesta R5 so I have more experience and more confidence with the car so we now have to focus on the rally and find a good set-up in the test.”

Monteiro reveals ERC colours, plots Azores finish

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 18:00

Aloísio Monteiro is targeting gaining experience over gaining silverware on next week’s FIA European Rally Championship opener. And this is the car in which he’ll being doing exactly that.

Monteiro, who will be co-driven on the Azores Airlines Rallye by fellow Portuguese André Couceiro, is graduating to a top-of-the-range ŠKODA Fabia R5 for what he hopes will be an expanded number of events in 2018.

"From the beginning of this project we have established that our goal is to accumulate kilometres and try to improve our performance at every moment, improving details that make us evolve,” said Monteiro. “We aren’t focused or concerned about the outcome, not least because the list of competitors is great and many of them are very competent and experienced pilots. We are ready and enthusiastic to start this challenge."

The Azores Airlines Rallye takes place from 22-24 March.

Event preview: ERC Juniors in the thick of the battle for Azores Airlines Rallye glory

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 12:00

ERC Juniors past and present will be in the thick of the battle for glory when the 2018 FIA European Rally Championship season begins on the Azores Airlines Rallye next week (22-24 March).

Marijan Griebel graduates to the championship’s top tier after winning the ERC Junior Under 28 title in 2017, while Chris Ingram steps up to ERC Junior U28 after claiming ERC Junior U27 success last season. Ingram will be one of 12 drivers contesting ERC Junior U28, the class for young stars in R5 cars, while ERC Junior U27 for R2 cars on Pirelli tyres has attracted 11 entrants for the Mid-Atlantic gravel showpiece, one of the most spectacular events on the international calendar.

ERC Junior U27 contenders include Dominik Brož, Tom Kristensson and Efrén Llarena, who are competing with the support of the Czech (ACCR), German (ADAC) and Spanish (RFEDA) motorsport federations/automobile associations. Points scored by the trio will count towards the ERC Nations’ Cup, a new initiative for 2018 that promotes participation in the European championship by these organisations and, in turn, provides an extra opportunity for rising talents to progress from national to international level.

Other changes for 2018 include reducing the number of scoring rounds in ERC2 from six to four – which has resulted in double the number of all-season campaigners – a requirement for drivers to be ERC registered in order to score overall points and a revamp to the ERC Ladies’ Trophy points system. Rather than recognise the achievements of women when competing against other women drivers, to promote gender equality, drivers will score points based on where they appear in the final two or four-wheel-drive order.

ERC Junior Under 28: R5 category on the rise*
The ERC Junior Under 28 category continues to go from strength to strength with a flurry of competitor interest for its second season. ŠKODA’s German and Slovak subsidiaries will be supporting Fabian Kreim and Martin Koči respectively in the category for young stars in R5 cars, while Laurent Pellier steps up from winning the 208 Rally Cup in France to lead PEUGEOT Rally Academy’s challenge. ERC Junior Under 27 champion Chris Ingram gets his first shot in R5 machinery with Toksport. Pierre-Louis Loubet, son of 1989 ERC champion Yves, brings Team OSCARO support to BRC Racing Team where he will pilot a Hyundai i20 R5. Fredrik Åhlin (Sweden) and Frank Tore Larsen (Norway) make up the Scandinavian contingent. Poles Tomasz Kasperczyk and Hubert Ptaszek, Briton Rhys Yates and Azorean Luis Rego will also be in action as will Italian Tamara Molinaro, who graduates from ERC Junior U27 to become the first women driver to mount a season-long ERC campaign in an R5 car. The champion will be offered a one-off prize drive in a World Rally Car on a European round of the 2019 WRC season as their prize.

ERC Junior Under 27: Next generation aim for the top
Eleven drivers aiming for the top will be in the thick of the battle for Pirelli-equipped ERC Junior U27 success on the Azores Airlines Rallye. Tom Kristensson and Mārtiņš Sesks have been charged with chasing a fourth consecutive title for the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team. Kristensson gets his chance after winning the ADAC Opel Rallye Cup in Germany last season, while Sesks is a graduate of the ERC Junior Experience training programme. Their rivals will include ACCR Czech Team’s Dominik Brož, Rally Team Spain’s Efrén Llarena, Saintéloc Junior Team pair Catie Munnings and Simon Wagner, Finnish R2 champion Miika Hokkanen, Denmark’s ERC rookie Simon Vallentin and circuit racer turned rally driver Mattia Vita. Pedro Antunes and Diogo Gago will carry Portuguese hopes in their PEUGEOT 208 R2s. All ERC Junior Under 27 drivers will be enrolled onto the ERC Junior Experience training programme.

And in other news…
*Last year’s Azores winner and ERC runner-up Bruno Magalhães is embarking on what the Portuguese hopes will be a full-season campaign when his opposition will include the ever-spectacular Russian Alexey Lukyanuk and PEUGEOT Deutschland-supported Marijan Griebel. While Magalhães and Lukyanuk have gravel knowledge of their ŠKODA Fabia R5 and Ford Fiesta R5 respectively, Griebel’s first taste of driving his 208 T16 on loose surfaces will be during testing on Monday.

*Current and former national champions competing in the Azores include Łukasz Habaj (Poland), Norbert Herczig (Hungary), Ricardo Moura (Azores), Hermann Neubauer (Austria) and Bernardo Sousa and Carlos Vieira (both Portugal). Sousa, the Azores winner in 2014, has competed only sporadically in recent seasons and will take over the Play / Autoaçoreana Racing Citroën DS3 R5 vacated by brothers Ruben and Estevão Rodrigues for professional reasons.

*Orhan Avcioglu graduates to the ERC after winning the FIA Balkan Rally Trophy in 2017. He will form part Toksport’s three-car Azores entry.

*Brazil’s Paulo Nobre is returning to international competition after successfully masterminding the rise of Palmeiras in his role as club president. Nobre, a regular in the WRC and in cross-country rallying in the past, is returning to his old team Motorsport Italia.

*Albert von Thurn und Taxis will embark on his second ERC season after joining Raimund Baumschlager’s BRR operation, while Dávid Botka is a former ERC2 champion.

*Other drivers competing on the ERC season-opener include Giacomo Costenaro, Jarosław Koltun and Aloísio Monteiro, who has been receiving driving tips from Bruno Magalhães as he steps up to R5 level.

*Emma Falcón and Catie Munnings will battle Tamara Molinaro for ERC Ladies’ Trophy honours.

Showroom showdown: New rules result in expanded ERC2 interest
With the number of scoring rounds reduced from six to four in response to competitor feedback, the amount of drivers planning season-long campaigns in ERC2 – the category for standard production cars – has doubled. Tibor Érdi Jr is returning to defend his title with last year’s runner-up Zelindo Melegari and third-placed Sergei Remennik also in action. Argentine Juan Carlos Alonso returns following a one-year absence, while Luis Pimentel is also returning after a back injury curtailed his 2017 endeavours. Newcomer Tarik Manderes Okur from Turkey completes the list.

Watch and listen
Coverage of the the City Show demonstration stage on the streets of host city Ponta Delgada (Wednesday 21 March), the start selection ceremony, season launch, Grupo Marques superspecial and finish podium will be streamed live. ERC Radio will broadcast live from all stage finishes. Highlights from Thursday and Friday’s legs (March 22 and 23) will air on Eurosport 1 from 23h30 CET. Highlights from Saturday (March 24) will be shown at 22h30 CET.

60: Record-breaking entry of 60 cars
35: A total of 35 top-of-the-range R5 cars will be in action, including 12 in ERC Junior Under 28
55: Of the 60 entrants, 55 are registered for ERC points with 23 lining up in ERC Junior
15: This year’s event features 15 stages over a competitive distance of 207.30 kilometres
2: Number of visits to the iconic Sete Cidades stage. Click here to find out what’s in store

RFEDA makes Llarena’s ERC Junior dream come true

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 18:00

New ERC Junior Under 27 recruit Efrén Llarena has spoken about how the support of the Rally Team Spain initiative has enabled him to take the step up from national to international level for this season’s FIA European Rally Championship.

Llarena won Spain’s Beca Júnior R2 title in 2017, which carried a funded drive in ERC Junior U27 this season as its top prize through the support of the Real Federación Española de Automovilismo (RFEDA).

“It is an honour and a dream come true,” said the 22-year-old Llarena. “We knew that for us it was a very difficult challenge, but we have achieved it and we have to be able to take advantage of this opportunity.

“All Spanish drivers have to be grateful to the Royal Spanish Automobile Federation for having inaugurated Rally Team Spain, a very interesting project. Now young people who compete in rallies have a direction to go in. Without this initiative, I could not make the leap to the ERC.”

Llarena, whose Mavisa Sport-run PEUGEOT 208 R2 will be co-driven by compatriot Sara Fernández, continued: “We started with the aim of trying to win our category. We know it’s going to be difficult, but we have to be very intelligent, know where to run and when to be more cautious depending on the terrain. We’re going to have to fight a lot to get it, but at least we’re going to try. “

Speaking at Rally Team Spain’s recent launch, Manuel Aviñó, President of Real Federación Española de Automovilismo, said: “Rally Team Spain is already a reality. The dream is fulfilled of being able to send young Spanish talents to continue growing in a first-level contest like the ERC, with its great media coverage thanks to the support of Eurosport. We cannot have better partners for this challenge, not only for Efrén and Sara, but also for PEUGEOT and all the companies that collaborate in the project.”

Jorge Tomé, who heads PEUGEOT in Spain and Portugal, said: “At PEUGEOT we have always believed that the values of ambition, sportsmanship and fighting spirit that motorsport represent are an important part of our brand identity, which we make a reality in our life. For us it’s a privilege, at this historic moment with the victory of Carlos Sainz and PEUGEOT in the Dakar, betting on an excellent driver, like Efrén Llarena, and an excellent co-driver, like Sara Fernández. We wish them the best in this new project.”

Along with ACCR (Czech Republic) and ADAC (Germany), RFEDA will be in contention for the new-for-2018 ERC Nations’ Cup.

R5 chance for ERC Junior Experience graduates Bedoret, Mareš

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 06:00

Two graduates from the ERC Junior Experience training programme, Sébastien Bedoret and Filip Mareš, have both been handed huge opportunities for 2018.

Mareš will contest the Czech championship in a ŠKODA Fabia R5 backed by Autoklub of the Czech Republic, with Bedoret being handpicked by rallying royalty Freddy Loix to contest the Belgian championship with support from his country’s ŠKODA importer.

Regulars in FIA ERC Junior Under 27 last season, Bedoret and Filip Mareš enrolled in the ERC Junior Experience, which is designed to equip young drivers with the skills they need to progress.

Photo with thanks to:

Habaj strives for the ERC top five

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 18:00

Łukasz Habaj plans to make the most of the experience he gained in the FIA European Rally Championship in 2017 when strives to finish in the top five in this season’s standings.

The former Polish champion is targeting a seven-event campaign starting from next week’s Azores Airlines Rallye (22-24 March).

“With so many drivers competing it’s really difficult to set an objective, especially as I haven’t raced most of them,” said Habaj. “For sure I want to be more competitive than last season. I have much more experience so it should help. If we finish the season in the top five I will be very happy.”

Habaj’s preparations for the new ERC schedule began back in January with the first of two appearances in the Finnish championship, which he hopes will put him in a good position for the season ahead.

“I have already implemented a different approach as we started off the season with two training rallies in Finland,” Habaj explained. “I have never started the season as early as January and I have also put much more attention to my physical preparations. In terms of the rallies itself I know all the rounds except Greece so I can say that I have never been so ready before. I am sure I improved my skills in Finland. Most of the skills you need to be fast on loose surfaces are common regardless if it is snow or wet gravel. Obviously Azores is a totally different rally but I guess you need similar skills.”

Habaj’s 2017 ERC campaign got off to a frustrating start with a retirement and non-start – following a shakedown crash – on the first two events. But the Rallytechnology-run Ford Fiesta R5 driver is determined to look forwards, not back.

“I just want to drive with good pace and see the finish line,” he said. “I don’t look at Azores and Canarias as unfinished business or anything like that. If I think about a good result at the end of the season, I know I have to improve my pace but get to the finish at the same time.”

Habaj will get the opportunity to compete on home soil when the gravel-based Rally Poland hosts the action from 21-23 September, after the event replaced the all-asphalt Rally Rzeszow on the ERC schedule. “Rally Poland is in general great but I feel more comfortable on Tarmac and definitely I know Rzeszow better. But I can’t complain, I am happy that we have an ERC round in Poland and will try to do my best.”

ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley said: “It’s great Łukasz is returning to the ERC for an increased programme of events. As a national champion, the ERC provides the perfect platform of progression and we are pleased Łukasz is able to continue his career at international level.”

Botka goes fourth in the ERC

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 06:00

Leading Hungarian driver Dávid Botka is preparing to embark on his fourth season in the FIA European Rally Championship in 2018.

And while he’s started the Azores Airlines Rallye on three occasions, next week’s island spectacular will be the first time he’s competed on gravel in his ŠKODA Fabia R5, which he acquired midway through last season.

“We try to prepare ourselves and also the car to the competition and I hope we can go fast,” said the 2015 ERC2 champion. “The Fabia was a really good choice and we have already won the Croatia Rally last year. We start to get to know it better and one or two times a week I go through videos of the stages.

“With the entry list we can see how powerful the ERC will be this year. It is sure that I want to do my best in this season and I will see if I can compete with the young beginners and also the older veterans or not. If not, we will go on an other way in the next year so this year will be really important in my career.”

Botka, who will be co-driven by compatriot Márk Mesterházi, finished fourth overall in the Azores in 2016 at the wheel of his old Citroën DS3 R5.

The Azores Airlines Rallye takes place from 22-24 March. Multiple Hungarian champion Norbert Herczig will also be in action in his MOL Racing Team ŠKODA while Tibor Érdi Jr, also from Hungary, is chasing ERC2 success in a Mitsubishi Lancer.

Photo: DuEn /

Remennik can’t wait for Azores ERC return

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 18:00

Sergei Remennik can’t wait to return to the Azores Airlines Rallye for the start of the 2018 FIA European Rally Championship next week.

Russian driver Remennik made his ERC debut on the island event last April and plans to make the most of that experience as he takes on expanded competition in the ERC2 category.

“Last year we only had Alexey Lukyanuk’s past onboard videos to help us,” said Remennik, who will pilot a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X alongside co-driver Mark Rozin. “Now we have our own personal experience, and we already know how to prepare for this race.”

Remennik is one of six drivers set for a full season of ERC2 action after new rules were introduced to limit the number of scoring opportunities to four events from the previous six in an effort to control costs.

“The fact that the organisers met the participants’ needs and changed the rules of the series, determined we will take part in this series again,” said the Russian Performance Motorsport driver. “Also, we are very pleased with the number of participants in the ERC2 standings, twice as many as before.”

He continued: “Everyone expects to achieve the best result. And we will definitely try to improve last year’s result and I hope we will be able to do that. The Azores are splendid islands and it is a very beautiful race. We are counting the seconds to the start.”

Vita continues family tradition in ERC Junior

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 06:00

There will be no shortage of parental guidance for Mattia Vita when he embarks on his maiden international campaign in the FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship in 2018.

Vita’s father won the Targa Florio during his successful career as a rally driver, while his mother was a co-driver in the past. His own career has been varied with stints in karting and Formula 3, making the asphalt rounds of ERC Junior particularly attractive for the 21-year-old, who has never competed on gravel before.

“Family is something that’s very strong, my parents give me the power to cross the biggest steps of my life,” said Vita. “My dad always gives me a lot of advice regarding car set-up but he also knows that I have to grow by myself and he lets me learn. Learning from the mistakes is very important for a driver.”

 Vita will drive a Pirelli-equipped PEUGEOT 208 R2 under the G-Force Marketing Solutions banner and explained why he’s made ERC Junior Under 27 his next motorsport challenge. “I have chosen ERC Junior for many reasons but mainly because I really want to compete with the best drivers coming from all over the continent. But another reason is the great media coverage on Eurosport, which can ensure my sponsors a great return on investment.”

He continued: “My target is to have a very constructive season. I don't have any gravel experience so it’s important I get the best results possible on those rounds. Since I was a kid I raced in karting and later in F3. I have interesting Tarmac experience so I will try to be as consistent as possible during Tarmac events.”

Vita’s own career plan matches the strategy set out by ERC Junior promoter Eurosport Events: a platform of progression from national level to the world stage. The ERC Junior U27 champion will receive a grant of 100,000 euros to put towards an ERC Junior U28 campaign in 2019 in an R5 car. The ERC Junior U28 champion will then get a one-off prize drive in a World Rally Car on a European round of the WRC.

“I have no secrets and no doubts – I want to be part of the WRC action,” said Vita, whose ERC Junior adventure begins on the Azores Airlines Rallye from 22-24 March. “But I must not stop to grow mentally and I have to get more consistent every time I sit in the car. My target is to compete in as many ERC Junior events as possible, budget permitting.”

ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley said: “We’re really pleased to welcome another young driver with big ambition to ERC Junior U27. Given Mattia’s limited experience, the rallies he will do combined with the knowledge he’ll gain from the ERC Junior Experience training programme will allow him to progress as a driver and help him achieve his objective to compete in the world championship one day.”

Falcón reveals her new ERC colours

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 18:00

Emma Falcón has revealed the striking colour scheme she will carry on her Citroën DS3 R3T in this season’s FIA European Rally Championship.

A contender for ERC3 and ERC Ladies’ Trophy honours, the mainly black and pink design is a departure from the largely white, black and red livery carried in 2017.

The Canary Islander will begin her ERC campaign on next week’s Azores Airlines Rallye with her home event, Rally Islas Canarias, next up from 3-5 May.


Alonso aboard for another ERC adventure

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 06:00

Juan Carlos Alonso is hoping he can be competitive against the established ERC2 stars when he returns to the FIA European Rally Championship this season.

Alonso embarked on a three-event ERC2 campaign in 2016, claiming a third, fourth and fifth in the category for standard production cars.

His comeback will begin on the Azores Airlines Rallye later this month with fellow Argentine Juan Pablo Monasterolo co-driving his RMC Motorsport-run Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.

“I have chosen the ERC because I found it to be a really good championship with beautiful rallies and fantastic media coverage,” Alonso explained. “When I was competing in 2016 I really felt very comfortable and the ERC staff were very friendly with us all the time.”

Of his objectives for the season, Alonso said: “The most important challenge for me is to try to be competitive. I know this year a lot of very good drivers will be in ERC2. I will try to win some rallies and for sure I will try to get to the finish of the season with a serious chance to fight for the ERC2 title.”

Alonso has been keeping rally-ready by testing his own Lancer Evolution X in his homeland. “I have been trying to keep a good rhythm and feeling with the car,” he said.

The 48-year-old placed third in ERC2 on his previous Azores Airlines Rallye outing in June 2016. This year’s event takes place from 22-24 March and counts as the opening event of the 2018 season.

So far, Alonso has confirmed he’ll compete in the Azores and on May’s Rally Islas Canarias. “After Canarias I will be able to confirm the rest of the rallies for our ERC season,” said the Argentine.

Defending champion Tibor Érdi Jr from Hungary, Italy’s Zelindo Melegari and Russia’s Sergei Remennik have all confirmed their plans to return to ERC2 in 2018.

Fit again Pimentel plots ERC2 return

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 12:00

Luis Pimentel will return to the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC2 category on the Azores Airlines Rallye having recovered from the lumbar fracture that ruled out a title bid in 2017.

Pimentel, a former Azorean rally champion, won ERC2 on his home event last April only to get injured landing a jump on the next event, Rally Islas Canarias.

“I’m very happy to be back in action,” said Pimentel, who is planning to contest six ERC2 events in 2018. “Last year we had a great opportunity to promote Azores at some of the FIA ERC events but that accident at Canary Islands made us step back and it became impossible to proceed according to our plans. This year and with Mitsubishi Portugal’s support we believe we can make the difference and battle for top places at ERC2.”

Nuno Moura will co-drive Pimentel’s Calm Competició Mitsubishi in the Azores after Bruno Pimentel became unavailable due to a professional commitment. “Bruno is not available for Azores Airlines Rallye,” Luis Pimentel explained. “Nevertheless, two things are for sure: the team counts with Bruno for the next rounds of ERC2 and Nuno is a well-known and efficient Azorean co-driver so I believe we will do just fine.”

Azores Airlines, Stetik Azores, Azores Tourism Bureau, Let’s Rent-a-Car, LP Driving Academy,, Mitsubishi Portugal, Pirelli and DecoRacing will support Pimentel’s ERC2 bid.

Loubet on course for ERC success following BRC Racing Team’s live launch

Sat, 03/10/2018 - 12:00

Team OSCARO’s Pierre-Louis Loubet will be ready to bid for FIA European Rally Championship success on the Azores Airlines Rallye later this month.

The Frenchman, who will compete for honours in the ERC Junior Under 28 category, revealed during his BRC Racing Team’s online launch in Italy today that his preparations are going to plan for the spectacular gravel rally, which takes place from 22-24 March.

“We are really happy to be here and we will try to do our best in the Azores and to be fast as quickly as possible to fight for the top,” said Loubet live on Facebook earlier. “Our luggage is ready for the Azores, we will go next Saturday and normally we will test on Sunday.”

Loubet and co-driver Vincent Landais will compete in a Hyundai i20 R5 with support from OSCARO and the French motorsport federation, the FFSA. BRC Racing Team’s online launch took place at its base in Cherasco, Italy, this morning.

Another ERC season for ACCR? Czech!

Fri, 03/09/2018 - 16:00

Czech Republic’s motorsport federation, ACCR, will continue to support a team of rising talents in the FIA European Rally Championship following a hugely successful first foray in 2017.

After narrowly missing out on the FIA European Rally Championship for Teams and claiming class wins in ERC Junior Under 27 and ERC Junior Under 28, the ACCR Czech Team will enter Jan Černý in ERC Junior U28 for young stars in R5 cars and Dominik Brož in ERC Junior U27 where drivers compete in R2 machinery on Pirelli tyres.

Filip Mareš, who placed third in the 2017 ERC Junior U27 standings in his first season of international competition and is an ERC Junior Experience graduate, will step to an R5 car for a Czech championship bid, which includes the ERC-counting Barum Czech Rally Zlín. Mareš, 26, will be registered for ERC points.

While Brož, 21, will continue in a Peugeot 208 R2, 27-year-old Černý will switch from a ŠKODA Fabia R5 to a Ford Fiesta R5, run by Zlín-based Gemini Clinic, which guided Bryan Bouffier to two ERC victories last year. Petr Černohorský will co-drive with the duo getting their ERC campaign underway on May’s Rally Islas Canarias to avoid a clash with the Czech championship season opener.

Brož, who will be co-driven as usual by Petr Těšínský, will start his ERC Junior U27 bid on this month’s Azores Airlines Rallye. ACCR Czech Team will be eligible for the new-for-2018 ERC Nations’ Cup for teams supported by ASNs.

The Autoklub of the Czech Republic is one of a number of national ASNs actively supporting young drivers in the ERC. RFEDA is funding Efrén Llarena’s ERC Junior U27 programme through its Rally Team Spain initiative, while Tom Kristensson is competing in ERC Junior U27 with support from ADAC, organiser of the ADAC Opel Rallye Cup, which he won in 2017. Meanwhile, Marijan Griebel, a double ERC Junior champion, has enjoyed ADAC’s support for several seasons.

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “It is really good news that the Autoklub of the Czech Republic is continuing to invest in young drivers by creating a fantastic opportunity for them to progress from national to international level. In Dominik Brož, Jan Černý and Filip Mareš, the ACCR has three exceptional talents that will only get better with their federation’s support and guidance.”

Tomáš Kunc, Secretary General of the Autoklub of the Czech Republic, said: “The first official participation of the ACCR Czech Team in the ERC in 2017 was very successful and we are pleased the project was a good inspiration for other national federations to do the same. We are really happy that we can support young drivers and fight for the highest placing, not only in the FIA European Rally Championship for Teams but also in the brand new ERC Nations’ Cup. By continuing this project, we are trying to motivate other young talented Czech drivers that they too have the chance to receive the same support and progress.”

R5 x 35 for Azores ERC season opener!

Fri, 03/09/2018 - 15:00

A staggering 35 R5 cars are entered for the Azores Airlines Rallye, the opening round of the FIA European Rally Championship from 22-24 March.

Underlining the popularity of the ERC, the R5 entry marks a seven-car increase over last season’s Azores Airlines Rallye and is just two shy of the 2017 record of 37 R5 cars, which was set on Barum Czech Rally Zlín in Central Europe during the summer.

In addition, 12 drivers are entered for the ERC Junior Under 28 Championship, which caters for young stars in R5 cars, while 11 will line up in ERC Junior Under 27 for drivers in R2 cars on Pirelli tyres.

Among the leading names taking part are Bruno Magalhães, the 2017 ERC runner-up and last year’s Azores winner, ERC Junior Under 28 and ERC Junior Under 27 champions Marijan Griebel and Chris Ingram, ERC event winner Alexey Lukyanuk, German title winner Fabian Kreim, Portuguese champion Carlos Vieira, multiple Azorean champion Ricardo Moura and Hungarian champion Norbert Herczig.

Azores Airlines Rallye 2018 entry: key facts and figures
35: R5 cars entered
12: drivers in ERC Junior Under 28
11: drivers in ERC Junior Under 27
60: entries for international event
54: registered ERC drivers
22: nationalities represented
9: cars from nine manufacturers in action

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “Attracting such a big entry, particularly from drivers in R5 cars and in the ERC Junior categories, demonstrates the appeal of the FIA European Rally Championship. While the Azores is one of the most spectacular rallies on the international calendar, its mid-Atlantic Ocean setting makes taking part somewhat of a logistical challenge. Despite this and the earlier date, drivers and teams have entered the rally and registered for the ERC in big numbers. The prospects for a highly competitive and exciting start to the 2018 ERC have increased significantly.”

Click here to view the entry list:












ORLEN 74 Rally Poland / Rajd Polski

ORLEN 74 Rajd Polski

Kalendarz 2018

22-24 marca:

Azores Airlines Rallye (Portugalia)

03-05 maja:

Rally Islas Canarias (Hiszpania)

01-03 czerwca:

Acropolis Rally (Grecja)

15-17 czerwca:

Cyprus Rally (Cypr)

20-22 lipca:

Rally di Roma Capitale (Włochy)

24-26 sierpnia:

Barum Czech Rally Zlín (Czechy)

21-23 września:

Rajd Polski

12-14 października:

Rally Liepaja (Łotwa)