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Updated: 45 min 55 sec ago

Happy Griebel gets first taste of ERC Volkswagen Polo

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 18:00

Marijan Griebel has driven his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 for the first time during testing in the Azores today as he builds up to his return to FIA European Rally Championship action.

The double ERC Junior champion joined Baumschlager Rallye & Racing team-mate Norbert Herczig at a private test, which took place in dry and sunny conditions, despite rain and fog affecting test roads being used by their ERC rivals on other parts of São Miguel island.

“First of all, I’m really happy to be back in the European championship,” said Griebel, who won the German championship in 2018. “The car is brand new – I just did my first metres with it. I will need some time to get more optimistic with the car, but the weekend is long, the rally is quite difficult and you don’t have to start at 100 per cent.”

Griebel took second place in the Azores in 2017 on route to winning the ERC Junior Under 28 title.

Photo: Julian Porter/ERC Radio

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Stengg in battle to start ERC opener following testing crash

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 15:00

Roland Stengg’s mechanics will do “everything they can” to get the Austrian to the start of the Azores Rallye on Thursday after he crashed heavily in testing earlier today.

ERC3 Junior talent Stengg escaped with a sore ankle while co-driver Alessandra Baumann was largely unhurt in the high-speed accident. However, their Opel ADAM R2 was damaged beyond immediate repair. Although the Stengg Motorsport team transported a spare ADAM R2 to the Azores, it’s not clear if it can be readied in time for the FIA European Rally Championship season-opener.

“I went to a deep cut, went on two wheels and there was a mud wall,” Stengg explained. “I hit that and started to roll I don’t know how many times. It was just a blur when I think about. The car went 200 metres down the road, there were car parts everywhere.”

Of his chances of starting the rally, Stengg said: “We have a spare car with us but we have to check if we can start. The mechanics are doing everything they can, we do our best.”

Photo: Julian Porter/ERC Radio

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Every second counts: Magalhães on why Azores ERC counter is a sprint, not a marathon

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 12:00

Bruno Magalhães says pushing from start to finish is key to winning the Azores Rallye, a feat he has achieved on three occasions.

Team Hyundai Portugal’s star recruit for 2019 is aiming for more FIA European Rally Championship success on the challenging island contest, his first ERC appearance in a Hyundai i20 R5 following two seasons competing in a ŠKODA Fabia R5.

“To get the victory in Azores you have to be fast from the first metre, it’s a sprint rally and if you lose 20s with an issue it can be impossible to recover this time,” the Lisbon-based ace explained.

Magalhães is part of Azores Rallye folklore following his dramatic final-stage triumph in 2010 and his unexpected success in 2017 (pictured). He can’t wait to return in 2019.

“You have the amazing and beautiful landscape,” he said. “It’s not easy to find another place like this in the world. The stages are very specific, very challenging. The weather can change very quickly, that is also part of the challenge.”

The post Every second counts: Magalhães on why Azores ERC counter is a sprint, not a marathon appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Portuguese federation FPAK enters ERC Nations’ Cup, Antunes to prove talent in ERC3 Junior

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 09:00

Portuguese prospect Pedro Antunes will mount a full-season FIA ERC3 Junior Championship bid with the support of his national ASN, Federação Portuguesa de Automobilismo e Karting (FPAK).

It’s part of a two-car entry under the FPAK Portugal Team ERC banner with Aloísio Monteiro leading the charge in a ŠKODA Fabia R5, while Antunes will drive a Pirelli-equipped Peugeot 208 R2.

Antunes and Monteiro will chase points for FPAK Portugal Team ERC in the ERC Nations’ Cup. While Monteiro built his ERC experience in 2018, Antunes has just two European championship starts to his name. However, the 25-year-old is highly rated in his homeland having won the Portuguese 2WD title in 2017 before claiming third overall in the Peugeot Rally Cup Iberíca in 2018.

After winning the one-make series on Rallye Serras de Fafe last month alongside co-driver Paulo Lopes, Antunes will start the Azores Rallye for a third time when the spectacular gravel event opens the 2019 ERC season from 21-23 March.

Ni Amorim, President of FPAK, explained why the federation is supporting an ERC campaign in 2019. “We believe in Pedro Antunes' capabilities to achieve the best possible results. In addition, this is an initiative that will involve Eurosport Events, promoter of the ERC, and that will create all the dynamics of promotion and broadcasting. It will be an important tool for publicising national motorsport and its drivers.”

For emerging star Antunes, his ERC3 Junior campaign is a huge opportunity. “Everyone starts the season thinking they can win but in the end there can just be only one winner,” he said. “It is my first full year in ERC Junior so we don’t know what we can do, but the podium will be our objective. The opportunity I have with FPAK Portugal Team ERC is really good for us and for the people in Portugal who like motorsport. I am very happy to have this opportunity and very thankful.”

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “FPAK’s decision to get behind this exciting initiative is really good news and testament to the appeal of the ERC and the ERC Nations’ Cup. We thank them for their support. In less than one year, four ASNs are committed with news of more soon.”

New for 2018, the ERC Nations’ Cup is for teams supported by a national motorsport federation (ASN) or automobile association. The results of the two highest-placed cars from a team count, with teams tallying their best six scores from a possible eight. A maximum of three cars, in either four- or two-wheel-drive configuration or a combination of both, can chase points on each event, although it is the results from the two highest-placed drivers that will count. With points distributed according to the four- and two-wheel-drive classifications, a federation or association can score a maximum of 50 points (25 points for 4WD, 25 points for 2WD) per event.

So far, ACCR Czech Team, ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team, the 2018 winner, and Rally Team Spain have announced their ERC entries for 2019 with FPAK Portugal Team ERC now doing likewise.

Meanwhile, ERC1 contender Aloísio Monteiro has recruited the experienced Sancho Eiró to co-drive his ŠKODA Fabia R5 for what will be his second season of European championship action following his step up from national level for 2018.

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Calm and comfortable Lukyanuk gets ready to defend ERC title

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 06:00

Alexey Lukyanuk will begin the defence of his FIA European Rally Championship title on the Azores Rallye this week feeling “calm and comfortable”.

Lukyanuk, who has joined the Saintéloc Junior Team to drive one of its Citroën C3 R5s, is bidding to become only the fourth driver in ERC history to successfully defend his title.

Speaking ahead of this week’s gravel showcase, the ace Russian said: “I would not say I am 100 per cent relaxed but I am calm, I feel comfortable and confident that we can have a really good event, have fun and get a good result.”

Lukyanuk bagged his maiden Azores win in 2018 following an exemplary performance. He’s a big fan of the Ponta Delgada-based event. “The atmosphere in the Azores is amazing and I am really anticipating my latest visit. There will be changes to the special stages, they will be different but we will be happy to explore some new roads on the island.”

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Big ERC year awaits Herczig

Sun, 03/17/2019 - 18:00

Norbert Herczig is set for one of his biggest seasons yet after arriving on São Miguel earlier today to begin his final preparations for the Azores Rallye.

Not only will the MOL Racing Team driver switch to the all-new Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 in 2019, his FIA European Rally Championship campaign will draw to a close on home soil when Rally Hungary takes its bow.

“We are very excited,” said Herczig, a double podium finisher during his maiden ERC campaign in 2018. “We have the possibility to drive again immediately before the race [on Monday] and I am really happy that Hungary will organise one race from the ERC.”

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Røkland reveals his ERC3 Junior Fiesta

Sun, 03/17/2019 - 18:00

This is the Ford Fiesta R2T Steve Røkland will use to try to win the FIA ERC3 Junior Championship in 2019.

Norwegian Røkland is returning to the Pirelli-supported category this season and has high hopes of success alongside co-driver and countryman Marius Fuglerud, starting with the Azores Rallye from 21-23 March.

“The Azores is a fantastic rally and it’s a rally I’ve done twice before,” said Røkland. “I was on the podium on my last visit in 2016 and hopefully we can do a strong result with the new Ford Fiesta. I’ve not tested the car yet, I will do that on the Monday before the rally, but it looks strong. The ERC is a really good with really great rallies and the competition is really strong as well.”

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ERC Junior success will be payback for RFEDA support, says Llarena

Sun, 03/17/2019 - 12:00

Efrén Llarena wants to win the FIA ERC3 Junior Championship to pay back Spanish federation RFEDA for its support of the Rally Team Spain initiative.

Llarena was the project’s first beneficiary when he landed a season of ERC Junior action in 2018 as his prize for winning his national R2 title the previous year.

So good were his performances last season that RFEDA is backing his second ERC Junior campaign in 2019 in a Pirelli-equipped Peugeot 208 R2 alongside co-driver Sara Fernández.

“We face this new season in ERC really excited,” said Llarena. “It’s the second year for Rally Team Spain. We are looking forward to win rallies during the championship for giving back the support we are receiving from Rally Team Spain and all the Spanish federation overall. They are working really hard to promote young talents from our country, and they deserve it. I think we can succeed this season working together.”

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Determined Ingram targets outright ERC title

Sat, 03/16/2019 - 18:00

Chris Ingram wants to become the first British driver since Vic Elford in 1967 to win the FIA European Rally Championship after confirming his entry on the Azores Rallye, the opening event of the 2019 season.

Ingram is still working to secure the funding needed to mount a full-season title attack, but hopes a successful start to his campaign on the Ponta Delgada-based event will help his search for backing.

He will continue with the Toksport WRT outfit alongside co-driver and fellow Briton Ross Whittock for what will be his sixth season in the ERC, the ultimate training ground for young drivers aiming for the top.

“We’ve had quite a few setbacks with sponsorship but we’re not giving up, we want to be the first British European champion for more than 50 years, it’s a lifetime ambition,” said the 2017 ERC Junior Under 27 champion. “I’ve been working towards that since I came into this championship in 2014 and with Toksport and the ŠKODA Fabia R5 I have the best chance to do that. But now I need the support to carry on with Toksport. Without them, Michelin, CarFinance247, Andrews Heat for Hire, ŠKODA UK and a number of individuals, I wouldn’t be here so I want to thank them for believing in me. As soon as I get back from the Azores I will be working flat out on getting the budget to carry on.”

Ingram, 24, finished runner-up to Nikolay Gryazin in the battle for ERC Junior Under 28 glory in a three-way final-round decider in Latvia last October. As well as chasing the renamed ERC1 Junior title, Ingram will be among the favourites to claim the title outright this year based on his impressive performances in 2018, his first season in R5 machinery, which began with a class victory on the Azores Rallye.

“We are really pleased Chris has once again decided to prove his talent in the ERC,” said Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator. “Chris has the ability to challenge for the overall European championship title and make it to the very top of the sport. We hope a second season in ERC1 will give him the springboard his ability deserves.”

The winner of the FIA ERC1 Junior Championship for young stars in R5 cars, which will be decided on Barum Czech Rally Zlín from 16-18 August, gets 100,000 euros for their participation on the ERC season-closing events in Cyprus and Hungary in an R5 car and with a team they choose. By contesting these two rallies, the ERC1 Junior champion could also be in a position to challenge for the overall ERC title, won in the past by Kajetan Kajetanowicz, Jan Kopecký, Esapekka Lappi and Alexey Lukyanuk.  The Cyprus Rally uses all-gravel stages from 27-29 September. The all-asphalt Rally Hungary is from 8-10 November.

Alex Tsouloftas will complete the Toksport WRT entry on the Azores Rallye. Like Ingram, the talented Cypriot is eligible for ERC1 Junior points.

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ERC Junior Furuseth vows to learn fast on Azores debut

Sat, 03/16/2019 - 12:00

Sindre Furuseth admits he needs to adapt to the challenge of the Azores Rallye as quickly as possible as he bids for FIA ERC3 Junior Championship glory.

The Saintéloc Junior Team-run Norwegian is new to the Ponta Delgada-based spectacular but highly adept on gravel events.

“I don’t know the Azores, but in the end my only goal is to win the championship so we will have to learn fast in the tests and prepare very good to keep up,” said Furuseth, who will be co-driven by Swede Jim Hjerpe. “But with a bigger team that I am now in there will be more people, more engineers to help me.”

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Tsouloftas shows his true colours ahead of maiden ERC1 Junior bid

Sat, 03/16/2019 - 09:00

Alexandros Tsouloftas will become the first Cypriot to mount an FIA ERC1 Junior Championship challenge from next week’s Azores Rallye – and this is how his ŠKODA Fabia R5 will look.

Featuring a striking black and yellow colour scheme, the design will be aired in public when the Azores Rallye takes place from 21-23 March.

The ERC stage winner and title contender in the category for young stars in R5 cars has joined the Germany-based Toksport WRT operation for his first full European championship campaign, having made a handful of appearances since he took up the sport in 2016 after injury cut short his career is a powerlifter.

Ahead of the 2019 season, Tsouloftas said: “My target is the ERC1 Junior title and thereafter try to aim as high as possible in the overall classification. However, I know that the first year is for building up experience of all events.”

Tsouloftas is one of eight ERC Junior drivers competing in the Azores for the first time. He will be co-driven by compatriot Antonis Chrysostomou.

Image by: Abstraxi.com

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ERC event preview: Azores Rallye

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:00

The 2019 FIA European Rally Championship fires up in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean from 21-23 March when the Azores Rallye hosts the opening exchanges of what is set to be another action-packed chase for on-stage glory.

Essentials
What: FIA European Rally Championship round 1 of 8*
When: 21-23 March
Where: Ponta Delgada, São Miguel, Azores
Stages: 15
Distance: 223.93 kilometres
Surface: Gravel
ERC appearances (since 2004 restructuring): 6 (2013-2018)
*Also counting for: FIA ERC1 Junior Championship, FIA ERC3 Junior Championship, ERC2, ERC3, FIA European Rally Championship for Teams, ERC Nations’ Cup, ERC Ladies’ Trophy

Recent winners:
2018: Alexey Lukyanuk/Alexey Arnautov (Ford Fiesta R5)
2017: Bruno Magalhães/Hugo Magalhães (ŠKODA Fabia R5)
2016: Ricardo Moura/António Costa (Ford Fiesta R5)
2015: Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Peugeot 208 T16)
2014: Bernardo Sousa/Hugo Magalhães (Ford Fiesta RRC)

Overview
The 2019 FIA European Rally Championship fires up in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean from 21-23 March when the Azores Rallye hosts the opening exchanges of what is set to be another action-packed chase for on-stage glory. Established stars, national champions, category stalwarts – plus a host of young prospects aiming to prove their talent in ERC Junior – will be competing on a mixture of asphalt and gravel events during an eight-round season between now and November. And they will do so in an exciting array of machinery. With several stages from the Azores broadcast live, a thrilling start to the season is in store.

Azores Rallye in 100 words
Based on São Miguel, the mid-Atlantic archipelago’s largest island, the event celebrated turning 50 in 2015 and remains one of the most spectacular on the international calendar. Gravel tests criss-cross breath-taking scenery and lush countryside, and are characterised by their sandy surface and narrow, undulating nature. And because the stages are often no wider than the width of a car, there is no margin for error, particularly on the iconic Sete Cidades, which runs along the rim of a volcanic crater lake, and where the weather can switch from sunshine to showers to fog in the blink of an eye.

What’s new for 2019?
Several changes have been made to this year's route with new and tweaked stages – including the untried Mediana Remédios test on leg one. The City Show, the non-competitive pre-rally demonstration run in Ponta Delgada on Wednesday evening, has also been revised as organisers usher in the changes.

Changes to the ERC 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. Meanwhile, R4-K and RGT cars are eligible for ERC2 points, while Rally Hungary joins the calendar for the first time as the deciding round in November.

Talking points
*Entry features 21 R5 cars – including examples from Citroën, Ford, Hyundai, ŠKODA and Volkswagen
*First ERC appearance for Citroën C3 R5 and Volkswagen Polo GTI R5
*Alexey Lukyanuk defends his overall FIA ERC title. Only three drivers have done so in ERC history
*Double ERC Junior champion Marijan Griebel is back and bidding for overall honours in a BRR-run Polo
*A total of 18 ERC Juniors are on the entry list including eight rookies
*National title winners from Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Portugal among others in action
*Five teams from national associations or federations will contest the ERC Nations’ Cup
*FIA European Rally Championship for Teams has strong support once again
*ERC2 set for a close battle between Juan Carlos Alonso, Luís Pimentel and Sergei Remennik
*Several drivers from the Portuguese championship are eligible for ERC points, including three of the last five winners, Bruno Magalhães, Ricardo Moura and Bernardo Sousa

Expert views
ERC1: Alexey Lukyanuk (Russia) Saintéloc Junior Team Citroën C3 R5: “The atmosphere in the Azores is amazing and I am really anticipating my latest visit. There will be changes to the special stages, they will be different but we will be happy to explore some new roads on the island. I would not say I am 100 per cent relaxed but I am calm, I feel comfortable and confident that we can have a really good event, have fun and get a good result.”

ERC2: Sergey Remennik (Russia) Russian Performance Motorsport Mitsubishi Lancer E10: “I had dreams about the Sete Cidades stage before my first visit. The Azores archipelago and, in particular, the São Miguel island, is an incredibly beautiful tropical world, one of the best places to live on this planet. It’s my third visit there and I will have a different co-driver. Mark Rozin is busy with his main job so I will continue my co-operation with Martin Danilova, a high-class professional.”

ERC3: Steve Røkland (Norway) Ford Fiesta R2T: “The Azores is a fantastic rally and it’s a rally I’ve done twice before. I was on the podium on my last visit in 2016 and hopefully we can do a strong result with the new Ford Fiesta. I’ve not tested the car yet, I will do that on the Monday before the rally, but it looks strong. The ERC is a really good with really great rallies and the competition is really strong as well.”

Home hero: Bruno Magalhães (Portugal) Team Hyundai Portugal i20 R5, three-time winner: “First of all you have the amazing and beautiful landscape. It’s not easy to find another place like this in the world. The stages are very specific, very challenging. The weather can change very quickly, that is also part of the challenge. To get the victory in Azores you have to be fast from the first metre, it’s a sprint rally and if you lose 20s with an issue it can be impossible to recover this time.”

Former winner: Craig Breen (2015 winner): “There’s probably no other spectacle in sport like Sete Cidades. To drive a rally car along the ridge of a volcano is an incredible experience and then you have the stages on the final day, which are like being in a jungle. It’s a really nice rally embraced by all the local fans and the road mileage is short, which is good too. It’s definitely a challenge but it’s a good experience and it’s a nice rally to win because there are a lot of famous winners. I’d love to do it again.”

Head to head: Lukyanuk v Griebel
The defending ERC champion Alexey Lukyanuk will battle double ERC Junior Marijan Griebel from the Azores Rallye onwards. Fresh from winning the German title for the first time in 2018, Griebel returns to ERC duty in an all-new Volkswagen Polo GTI R5, while Lukyanuk switches to a Saintéloc Citroën C3 R5 having rallied an H-Racing Ford Fiesta R5 in the past. Lukyanuk won on his third Azores start last year. Griebel will make his fifth Azores start in his fourth different type of car.

Form guide: Chris Ingram
Chris Ingram has form in the Azores. He topped the ERC Junior Under 27 category in 2017, won ERC Junior Under 28 in 2018 and has his sights firmly set on the overall victory – and ERC title – in 2019.

How to follow?
On TV and online: Live coverage of seven stages on RTP Açores, FIAERC.com and Facebook. Daily highlights on Eurosport and YouTube. Regular videos and news updates 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

Don’t miss!
Seven stages, including both runs of Sete Cidades on Friday 22 March, will be broadcast live on RTP Açores, and streamed on the official ERC website, FIAERC.com, and social media channels. However, before viewers are treated to the stunning Sete Cidades, they can enjoy the battle on the streets of Ponta Delgada, where the City Show takes place on the evening of Wednesday 20 March. On Thursday 21 March, fans can then watch live the event-opening Coroa da Mata stage followed by action from the Marques superspecial, which runs through the amphitheatre of a quarry. As well as the two visits to Sete Cidades, Friday’s live programming also includes the return to the Marques superspecial. Live coverage from Tronqueira, which hosts the second stage on Saturday 23 March and the rally’s deciding test that afternoon, will be the focus of leg three’s live output, which concludes with the podium finish in Ponta Delgada in early evening.

Five facts:
1: When it comes to Azores Rallye success look no further than Fernando Peres, the event’s record-holding seven-time winner.
2: While Ricardo Moura has multiple Azorean championship titles to his name, his Azores Rallye triumph in 2016 was his first on his home round of the ERC.
3: Other winners include WRC stars past and present, such as Craig Breen, Kris Meeke, Andreas Mikkelsen, Juha Kankkunen, Markko Märtin and Bruno Thiry.
4: The Azores archipelago is located roughly equidistant between Lisbon and New York and is made up of nine islands. The fertile soil is perfect for a variety of crops and
grazing for livestock.
5: Ribeira Grande, on São Miguel’s north coast, is becoming established as Portugal’s surfing capital with a number of national and international events being hosted there.

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Enhanced Abarth 124 rally set for ERC action

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 09:00

Abarth will unleash an updated version of its 124 rally in the FIA European Rally Championship in 2019 as the inaugural ERC-based Abarth Rally Cup gathers momentum.

More than 5000 kilometres of testing have been covered with the aim of improving the car’s performance and handling, while the introduction of a gravel kit will help drivers to optimise car set-up.

Utilising data accumulated from two seasons of rallying, ongoing development work, plus the considerable input of test driver and seven-time ERC event winner Alex Fiorio, Abarth engineers have implemented a number of changes to the 124 rally to suit professional and gentlemen drivers alike.

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “We are very excited to welcome the Abarth Rally Cup to the FIA European Rally Championship and, of course watching this spectacular, lightweight, rear-engined sportscar in action. With the Abarth 124 rally eligible for ERC2 points from 2019, the changes that have been made to the car will only increase its competitiveness against its rivals, while also raising the spectacle of what promises to be an entertaining category, which carries a very attractive prize package.”

The main changes are summarised below:

Engine: Power delivery is improved with better throttle response, particularly in low-speed sections, such as hairpin exists.

Transmission: Four differential maps (high, medium, low grip, wet) are now available and can be selected by the driver on the steering wheel. They will adjust the engine torque delivery according to surface grip to achieve a better response.

Gearbox: The pneumatic actuator has been adjusted to allow faster gear engagement on acceleration and more calibrated, smoother downshifting to prevent the rear axle locking. Nevertheless, rear-wheel locking is possible by using the newly-optimised handbrake.

Set-up: Abarth engineers have worked on all components to improve grip levels on Tarmac, while providing a kit for use on gravel. Set-up changes have resulted in a positive pitching effect and braking is now more progressive.

Gravel kit caters for loose-surface rounds
With two of the six Abarth Rally Cup events taking place on loose surfaces (Rally Liepāja and Rally Poland), a special gravel kit is now available. The kit enables the ride height to be increased by 40 millimetres but without compromising suspension performance. It also comes with brake discs compatible with the 15-inch alloy wheels used on gravel instead of the asphalt-specification 18-inch wheels.

The Abarth 124 rally is available for €110,000, which includes the ERC registration fee.

Calendar refresher
The 2019 Abarth Rally Cup will be contested on the following FIA ERC events:

Round 1: Rally Islas Canarias, 2-4 May (asphalt)
Round 2: Rally Liepāja (Latvia), 24-26 May (gravel)
Round 3: Rally Poland, 28-30 June (gravel)
Round 4: Rally di Roma Capitale (Italy), 19-21 July (asphalt)
Round 5: Barum Czech Rally Zlín, 16-18 August (asphalt)
Round 6: Rally Hungary, 8-10 November (asphalt)

Attractive prize package on offer
On each round the following prize fund will be offered:

First position: €12,000
Second position: €10,000
Third position: €8,000
Fourth position: €4,000

At the end of the season the Abarth Rally Cup winner will receive a final prize of €30,000.

Click here to watch the video.

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Champions, winners and ERC Juniors fill exciting Azores Rallye entry list

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 12:00

The 2019 FIA European Rally Championship is go with the publication of the Azores Rallye entry list* by the event organisers.

Headed by reigning ERC champions Alexey Lukyanuk and Alexey Arnautov, the entry features 21 R5 cars – including examples from Citroën, Ford, Hyundai, ŠKODA and Volkswagen – 18 ERC Juniors, plus national title winners from Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Portugal among others.

ERC Juniors go for gold
Eighteen future stars will chase ERC Junior points on the Azores Rallye with six runners in the R5-based FIA ERC1 Junior Championship and 12 in the FIA ERC3 Junior Championship for R2 cars on Pirelli tyres. Of the 18, eight will line up in the Azores as ERC Junior rookies. They include Alex Tsouloftas from Cyprus, Portugal’s Pedro Almeida, Czech 2WD and Junior champion Jan Talaš, Germany’s Roman Schwedt and Sweden’s Elias Lundberg, who is competing in ERC Junior as his prize for winning the 2018 ADAC Opel Rallye Cup in Germany.

Inter-make R5 battle in store
Volkswagen’s all-new R5 challenger will make its ERC debut with Marijan Griebel – the reigning German champion and double ERC Junior champion – and Norbert Herczig – the four-time Hungarian title winner – competing in the German cars run by Baumschlager Rallye & Racing. Alexey Lukyanuk, exciting Swedish prospect Mattias Adielsson and past Azores winner Bernardo Sousa will have the Citroën C3 R5 at their disposal. Team OSCARO’s Pierre-Louis Loubet, son of 1989 ERC champion Yves, multiple Azorean champion Ricardo Moura, Polish title winner Łukasz Habaj and 2017 ERC Junior champion Chris Ingram, who will be announcing details of his programme for 2019 in due course, are among 13 ŠKODA Fabia R5-powered drivers set for action. Bruno Magalhães, who has three Portuguese titles and three Azores victories to his name, will fly the Hyundai i20 R5 flag, while ERC Junior newcomer Miguel Correia is starting his second event in a Ford Fiesta R5.

Strong competition expected in ERC2, ERC3
The ERC2 category for production cars is set for a close battle between Juan Carlos Alonso, Luís Pimentel and Sergei Remennik. Peugeot Rally Academy pair Catie Munnings and Yohan Rossel will be in contention for ERC3 honours, as will American Sean Johnston and Dmitriy Myachin from Russia.

ERC Nations’ Cup expands for 2019
ACCR Czech Team, ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team, Sweden National Team, Rally Team Spain and the newly-formed FPAK Portugal Team ERC squad will contest the ERC Nations’ Cup in the Azores.

The Azores Rallye takes place from 21-23 March. The full entry list is available here.

*Subject to FIA approval

The post Champions, winners and ERC Juniors fill exciting Azores Rallye entry list appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

ARC Sport pair plot ERC Junior mission

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 15:00

ARC Sport pair Pedro Almeida and Miguel Correia are the latest young drivers aiming to prove their talent in the FIA ERC1 Junior Championship.

They will contest the Azores Rallye from 21-23 March, with top Portuguese team ARC Sport exploring the possibility of entering them on further rounds of the category for young stars in R5 cars.

ERC competition can help me grow, says Almeida
Pedro Almeida, 21, began competing regularly in 2016 and stepped up to R5 level in 2018, starting with the Azores Rallye and culminating in a season-high sixth place on Rallye Casinos do Algarve last November. He began his 2019 campaign with P10 on Rallye Serras de Fafe in late February, having switched from Ford Fiesta to ŠKODA Fabia power for this year.

“We are adapting to the ŠKODA Fabia R5, which in Fafe gave us good indicators of what we can do this season,” said Almeida. “We want to improve the pace and be closer to the top places. In the Azores we will have drivers from the European championship, a greater competitiveness that also makes us grow. At this level we want to improve and evaluate what we can do, and maybe to face the future in the ERC.”

Correia getting to grips with R5 power in ERC
Twenty-seven-year-old Miguel Correia is new to R5 technology in 2019 on the back of a first full season in rallying in 2018 when he won the ERT3 section to the Iberian Rally Trophy and claimed third in the 2WD division of the Portuguese championship in a Renault Clio R3T run by ARC Sport.

He said: “The 2018 season was unforgettable for us, since it was my first real experience in rallying and we managed to win two FIA titles, the FIA ERT3 and FIA IRT3, plus the Portuguese RC3 championship. For 2019 we have another big challenge in our hands but we are very excited to race in the Azores, one of the most beautiful gravel events in the world. It will be only my second time there and our second event ever with the Fiesta R5, after the debut in Fafe. We are still discovering the car so our goal right now is to finish all the events and get the experience, both in the rally and with the R5. It’s also a very important event for our sponsors, like Socicorreia, with all the media attention and amazing fans, so we’ll try to get to the finish line and maximize this opportunity.”

Top team ARC will capitalise on ERC experience
ARC Sport has a strong record of success in the FIA European Rally Championship. Bruno Magalhães finished runner-up in the overall ERC standings in 2017 and won last season’s EKO Acropolis Rally on his way to third in the final table. Emma Falcón claimed the ERC Ladies’ Trophy after spending the bulk of 2018 in an ARC Sport-run Citroën DS3 R3T.

Daniel Patrocinio, ARC Sport Team Manager, said: “It's great to be again on the opening round of the ERC. For one side we have the ambition of a good overall result with our experienced drivers, Ricardo Moura/António Costa and Ricardo Teodósio/José Teixeira. On the other side we are curious about what our junior teams, Pedro Almeida/Nuno Almeida and Miguel Correia/Pedro Alves, can show alongside the other ERC1 Junior drivers. At this point of their experience in motorsport the results aren’t so important, but the best way to speed up their learning is ERC1 Junior. Although they have just confirmed their presence in the Portuguese championship, the main goal now is to confirm their presence on some other ERC events and a good result in the Azores maybe can help to convince the sponsors.”

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator said: “The success ARC Sport has achieved in the ERC with Emma Falcón and Bruno Magalhães proves the level of this well organised, professional and capable team so it’s great they’ll be guiding two promising youngsters in ERC1 Junior. We hope their Azores Rallye appearance is just the start of their ERC adventure.”

The post ARC Sport pair plot ERC Junior mission appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Wagner: I am here to win in ERC Junior

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 09:00

Simon Wagner is targeting wins ahead of his upcoming FIA ERC3 Junior Championship campaign, which has a distinctly Austrian flavour to it.

Wagner will join compatriot and class rival Roland Stengg’s family team, Stengg Motorsport, as he switches from Peugeot to Opel power for his second season in the Pirelli-supported category.

After impressing with his speed in a Saintéloc Junior Team Peugeot in 2018, 25-year-old Wagner hopes luck will be on his side when the 2019 title battle begins on the Azores Rallye from 21-23 March.

“Last year was for learning and building experience,” said Wagner, who will continue his partnership with co-driver and fellow Austrian Gerald Winter. “I know the speed is there but we just had really bad luck. But we didn’t stop working hard and this year we are here for winning rallies, as many rallies as possible.”

Although it’s very much all-change for Wagner in 2019, he does have previous experience of driving an Opel ADAM R2 from the Stengg Motorsport stable.

“I did one rally back in 2017 to help my brother Julian win the Austrian 2WD title when we finished first and second,” Wagner explained. “It was a great experience and, of course, these great memories are still here. As I said I only drove one rally with this car but I totally enjoyed it and it has been the benchmark car for the last few years in the R2 category.

“Stengg Motorsport has huge experience with the ADAM R2 as they have worked with this car since 2014. I will bring two of the best mechanics with me and together with this team I really don’t need to think about anything, just focus on driving. There is no doubt we will have success – it definitely will be successful.”

Wagner is planning to contest all six ERC3 Junior rounds and is scheduled to complete a one-day test ahead of the new season getting underway.

Roland Stengg, meanwhile, is also returning to ERC3 Junior action in 2019 and details of his plans for 2019 will be announced in due course.

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “Simon proved his talent on a number of occasions last season, showing the kind of pace that’s needed to win in the very competitive ERC Junior category. We would be very surprised if he was not among the title contenders in 2019.”

The post Wagner: I am here to win in ERC Junior appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Talaš aims to learn first but fast in ERC3

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 12:00

What Jan Talaš lacks in experience he will more than make up for in talent and determination when he begins his FIA European Rally Championship adventure on the Azores Rallye later this month with support from his national federation, the Autoclub of the Czech Republic.

Talaš, the reigning Czech Junior and 2WD champion, has never competed on gravel before. And while he has contested Barum Czech Rally Zlín – his home round of the ERC – on two occasions, he was not registered for European championship points on either occasion.

“My main target for the Azores Rallye will be to gain experience on loose surfaces,” said the 23-year-old, who will be co-driven by Ondřej Krajča in 2019. “I hope we will be able to make a decent result but the most important target will be to learn unknown roads in co-operation with my new co-driver."

Talaš is highly regarded in his homeland but has also been dogged by a lack of finance for much of his career, which began as a nine-year-old in rallycross, albeit on a purely-for-fun basis. But his obvious ability prompted a Czech championship campaign before he stepped up to the Central European Zone equivalent. As soon as he was old enough to do so, Talaš then switched to rallying, the realisation of a childhood dream.

Starting out in a Ford Fiesta ST in 2010, Talaš rallied a ŠKODA Fabia in 2011 and 2012, both in Group N and Group A specification. Following a year out of action in 2017, Talaš secured a Czech championship campaign in 2018, which marked a lift-off season with the Peugeot Rally Cup CZ and Czech Class 6 crown added to his Czech Junior and 2WD awards.

Despite an ongoing financial struggle, Talaš is embarking on his first season at international level with a campaign in the Pirelli-supported ERC3 category with new co-driver Ondřej Krajča, who has previous ERC experience co-driving Karel Kupec, including one Azores Rallye start. Talaš will drive for his family-run team in a 208 R2 he has built by himself.

ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley said: “We are delighted to welcome Jan to the ERC. He has a strong reputation based on his impressive results competing in the Czech championship and he’s clearly a driver with talent, given the fact the Autoclub of the Czech Republic is getting behind him during his first international campaign. He doesn’t have much experience but he clearly has ability and enthusiasm in ready supply.”

The post Talaš aims to learn first but fast in ERC3 appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Updated Fabia on show ahead of new ERC season

Sun, 03/10/2019 - 18:00

This is the updated version of the ŠKODA Fabia R5, which is set for action in this season’s FIA European Rally Championship, and expected to deliver more success for the Czech firm.

ŠKODA Motorsport’s replacement for its most successful rally car of all time was unveiled at the Geneva Motorshow during the week. The company’s motorsport head, Michal Hrabánek, is expecting big things.

“The next generation of ŠKODA FABIA R5 is an important step towards keeping both our customers from all around the world and the ŠKODA factory team competitive during the next part of the car’s life cycle,” said Hrabánek, who oversaw ŠKODA Motorsport’s hat-trick of ERC titles between 2012 and 2014.

Among a number of technical changes, the new Fabia R5 features an updated 1.6-litre turbocharged engine offering more power and a better torque curve. Externally, the car gets a new headline design to match its road-going equivalent.

Photo: Skoda Motorsport

The post Updated Fabia on show ahead of new ERC season appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Bernardi goes to the movies to confirm Renault-powered ERC3 entry

Sat, 03/09/2019 - 12:00

Florian Bernardi confirmed his FIA European Rally Championship entry – at a cinema in his native France last night.

The Clio R3T Trophy France winner from 2018 is making a full-time switch to ERC3 this season having contested – and won – during a selected campaign last year.

Competing in a Clio R3T alongside co-driver Victor Bellotto, Bernardi will begin his title challenge on Rally Islas Canarias (2-4 May), before contesting the remaining six rounds of the all-action ERC.

“We have the ambition to go to the ERC for several years, we tasted it in 2018 and by force of perseverance and thanks to my partners, this year will be the good one!” said Bernardi, who will continue his relationship with Renault Sport, Fred Anne Compétition and R.tec suspension. “We already have two seasons in the Clio R3T and we know the potential of this car.”

While Bernardi has experience of Rally Islas Canarias and Rally di Roma Capitale from 2018, the other five rallies on his schedule will be all-new to the 29-year-old, who also has limited experience on gravel.

“Gravel is a surface that I do not know well but I can’t wait to discover it during a race,” Bernardi said. “Our victory last year on Rally Islas Canarias and our performance during Rally di Roma Capitale makes us think that we can claim the title, which is clearly the goal.”

Bernardi’s 2019 ERC campaign was unveiled during the screening of a specially-commissioned film at the Cinema Le Pathé Cap Sud in Avignon on Friday evening. The hour-long production by Julien Fébreau, watched by 250 special guests, charted Bernardi’s career from his first rally in a Peugeot 104 in 2007 to his Clio R3T Trophy France title success in 2018.

Photos: https://www.facebook.com/FlorianBernardiRallye

The post Bernardi goes to the movies to confirm Renault-powered ERC3 entry appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

Kreim bids for German hat-trick after ERC Junior success

Fri, 03/08/2019 - 16:00

Fabian Kreim will bid for a German championship hat-trick in 2019 as he continues his long-standing partnership with ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland.

Kreim challenged for last year’s FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship – the category for young stars in R5 cars – and won his class on Rally di Roma Capitale alongside former co-driver Frank Christian.

For 2019, the German talent will link up with new co-driver Tobias Braun in a Baumschlager Rallye & Racing-run ŠKODA Fabia R5 from this weekend’s ADAC Saarland-Pfalz Rallye.

“Frank has been working on his new professional challenge since January and has decided to clear the hot seat,” Kreim explained. “I have a lot to thank him [for] and will never forget the common successes.”

Kreim won the German title in 2015 and 2016. Marijan Griebel, German champion in 2018 after claiming back-to-back ERC Junior crowns, is the number one seed on the St Wendel-based event in a ŠKODA Fabia R5. He will switch to a Volkswagen Polo R5 for his ERC title challenge, which begins on the Azores Rallye later this month.

The post Kreim bids for German hat-trick after ERC Junior success appeared first on FIA ERC | European Rally Championship.

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PZM 75. Rajd Polski / PZM 75th Rally Poland

PZM 75. Rajd Polski

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)