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Updated: 35 min 19 sec ago

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, WeAndYou.pt, 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: http://media.fiaerc.com/2018-rallies-overview/azores-airlines-rallye-2/

FIA ERC celebrates International Women’s Day by confirming Tamara Molinaro’s entry in an R5 car

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 12:00

The FIA European Rally Championship is celebrating International Women’s Day (8 March) by confirming Tamara Molinaro’s registration in an R5 car.

Molinaro, a 20-year-old rising talent from Italy and winner of the ERC Ladies’ Trophy in 2017, will become the first female driver in history to sign up for a season-long ERC campaign in an R5 car following her graduation from the FIA ERC Junior Under 27 class. She will also be eligible for FIA ERC Junior Under 28, the category for young stars in R5 cars, which will reward its champion with a prize drive in a World Rally Car on a European round of the WRC in 2019.

Molinaro made her competitive debut in a Ford Fiesta R5 on the world championship-counting Rally Sweden last month, finishing P15 in her class. She will begin her ERC Junior Under 28 campaign on the Azores Airlines Rallye from 22-24 March. She has yet to confirm her programme thereafter but is working on securing the funding to tackle all six ERC Junior U28 rounds with the G.Car Sport team from Italy.

“I am over the moon and super-excited to drive an R5 car, even if right now only Azores is confirmed,” said Molinaro. “It’s really amazing to have the chance to participate in such a brilliant rally and I am even more happy to be part of the ERC family once again. If we are able to find the necessary budget for the rest of the season, I would really like to continue in ERC Junior U28 as it’s a great opportunity to grow.”

On the challenge of driving an R5 car, Molinaro said: “It’s hard to know if I am ready for this big step because of my experience but I got his opportunity from the car owner and it would be stupid to say ‘no’! Anyway it will be so much fun to drive this car and a big opportunity to learn. I am really lucky.”

In between her preparations for the Azores Airlines Rallye and her ERC Junior U28 debut, Molinaro is celebrating International Women’s Day and has this message for female drivers aiming to follow her lead. “I truly believe that girls can do really good in every kind of motorsport, with the right attitude, passion and dedication. For me, the biggest quality you must have is being strong; it’s a difficult world and you have to be ready for everything. Everyone needs to understand you just want to be respected as everyone else. I like to see girls involved in rallying when they are just themselves, simply loving and respecting the sport.”

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “We are really pleased that Tamara is taking the next step on the rallying pyramid by registering for the FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship. Although graduating to an R5 car presents a big challenge for any driver, Tamara has the ability to make the most of the opportunity and the right mindset to take advice on board and build on her experiences.”

From Russia with pace: Lukyanuk ready to thrill again in ERC

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 09:00

Alexey Lukyanuk will bid for FIA European Rally Championship gold in 2018 when he will double as the ultimate benchmark for his young rivals chasing success in the ERC Junior Under 28 category.

One of the fastest drivers of his generation, Lukyanuk’s high-pace approach has earned him a legion of fans plus numerous victories and awards, making him the perfect target driver for the R5-equipped ERC Junior U28 contingent.

Funding permitting, Lukyanuk is planning to contest all eight ERC rounds in 2018 with countryman Alexey Arnautov co-driving their Russian Performance Motorsport Ford Fiesta R5, run by H-Racing and supported by Qiwi during the season-opening Azores Airlines Rallye from 22-24 March.

While little has altered on the surface for Lukyanuk in terms of car, co-driver and team, a number of changes have taken place for the upcoming campaign.

“We changed our approach to the car’s set-up and started to work with a new engineer, who has great experience of world championship events,” said the 37-year-old Lukyanuk. “We just finished the tests in Italy and both the Fiesta and me are satisfied with the steps we’ve made. I cannot wait to experience all of that on the real stages. I’m thinking over the tactics and preparing well.”

Despite crashing out of the lead in the Azores last season, Lukyanuk is a big fan of the gravel spectacular. “I love the Azores Rallye,” he said. “When we first started there in 2016, we got accustomed fairly fast and showed good speed on the stages. They are narrow, quite technical, with fairly good grip, and despite the surface is slippery and loose, I like it. I believe our previous experience will help us. I plan to re-check the pacenotes from the last year, as 95 per cent of the stages are similar to 2017.”

After his Azores exit last year, Lukyanuk hit back with a dominant victory on Rally Islas Canarias only to suffer serious injuries in a testing accident shortly afterwards. He was still recovering when he returned to action, heroically leading Rally Rzeszow and claiming a podium on Barum Czech Rally Zlín. He received a standing ovation when he accepted the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy Driver of the Year award.

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “Alexey Lukyanuk has established himself as a fast and formidable competitor in recent seasons and it really is good news he’s back in 2018 when the outright title will surely be his target. Because of his pace and profile, Alexey is popular among the ERC Junior Under 28 drivers and somebody they aspire to beat. He’ll be a big help to them.”

Briton Yates up for ERC adventure

Thu, 03/08/2018 - 06:00

Rhys Yates will make his FIA European Rally Championship debut on the Azores Airlines Rallye later this month.

A frontrunner in the British championship, Yates has registered for ERC Junior Under 28 – the category for young stars in R5 cars – and is contemplating at least one more appearance in the series this season – July’s Rally di Roma Capitale – in a ŠKODA Fabia R5.

“Throughout my rallying career and even when I was contesting the British Moto X championship, I have always wanted to be as progressive as possible and learn as I go, so I really wanted to take everything one step at a time,” said the 25-year-old, who placed fourth in his domestic standings last season.

“We did things the right way by starting in a Suzuki Swift, then an R2 Fiesta before moving up to four-wheel drive. Now I feel the time is right to chase down a title and I think the British championship could be in reach this year. But I want to try some ERC rounds too as the R5 competition is mega on those events so it will give us a great benchmark to measure against during the year. If the Azores goes well, we will have to see about contesting a few more than just Rome.”

The Azores Airlines Rallye takes place from 22-24 March. As well as counting for overall European championship points, the event is the first of six events that count towards ERC Junior Under 28.

Vallentin steps up to ERC Junior with big ambitions

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 12:00

Danish prospect Simon Vallentin will be aiming high when he steps up to the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC Junior Under 27 category in 2018.

As well as trying to emulate compatriot Henrik Lundgaard by winning the European championship, Vallentin wants to go one better by becoming Denmark’s first world champion rally driver in the future.

He has chosen the ERC Junior Under 27 Championship for the clear path of progression it provides from the lower level of rallying to the sport’s top tier.

If Vallentin wins the ERC Junior Under 27 title this season, he will receive a grant of 100,000 euros to graduate to R5 machinery for an ERC Junior Under 28 bid in 2019. And if he claims back-to-back titles then the 26-year-old will be handed a one-off prize drive in a World Rally Car on a European round of the global series in 2020. He is now hard at work to secure the funds needed for a full campaign.

“It is my goal and my biggest dream to become a factory driver and then Denmark’s first world rally champion,” said Vallentin. “Therefore we have chosen to participate in ERC Junior. My goal is to run all six rounds, providing we can get the budget of course, but I never drive to become number two so we will do everything to place ourselves as high as possible. We know there are many talented youngsters so we must do our best. There are six new events to learn and I’m very excited about the challenge.”

Of Henrik Lundgaard, the Dane who won the overall ERC title in 2000, Vallentin added: “Since I was a kid I look up to Henrik. He is a big inspiration for me, also the biggest rally champion we have so far in Denmark, and it’s too long ago since a Danish driver took the European championship.”

Vallentin will drive a Peugeot 208 R2, hired from Renato Pita Motorsport Events, on the Azores Airlines Rallye (22-24 March) before switching to an Opel ADAM R2 run by Aleks Zawada’s Poland-based MSZ Racing team. Funding permitting, Vallentin plans to see out the remainder of 2018 with MSZ, for whom he drove on selected events last season, and more details on MSZ’s exciting plans for 2018 will be announced next month. Jeannette Kvick, also from Denmark, will co-drive Vallentin.

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “Simon is a driver we have always admired for his dedication and determination, and we’re very pleased he’s been able to put together a programme to step up to ERC Junior for 2018 – a category designed to help drivers climb the first important step of the international rallying pyramid. As well as the high-level competition he’ll face, Simon will join his fellow ERC Junior U27 drivers by enrolling into the ERC Junior Experience training programme as part of his championship registration package.”

New line-up, same objective for Opel ERC squad

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 17:00

The ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team might have changed its driver line-up for 2018 but the objective remains unchanged: to continue its winning streak in ERC Junior.

Tom Kristensson and Mārtiņš Sesks are the two drivers charged with flying the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team flag in the FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship this season and both have the potential to shine in the six-event series, the ultimate training ground for young hopefuls aiming for the top.

Kristensson, from Sweden, steps up from the ADAC Opel Rallye Cup in Germany as champion, while Latvian Sesks is a product of the ERC Junior Experience driver training programme and came close to winning ERC Junior U27 on his home event, Rally Liepāja, last October.

They will begin their campaigns on the Azores Airlines Rallye from 22-24 March and will also include Germany’s round of the world championship in August on their schedules for the year ahead.

“The title in the ADAC Opel Rallye Cup and advancement into the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team are still a dream come true for me," said 26-year-old Kristensson, who will be co-driven by Henrik Appelskog. “With three European championships in a row, our predecessors have set the bar incredibly high. So the desire and motivation to follow in their footsteps is tremendous.”

Eighteen-year-old Sesks, who will link up with new co-driver Renārs Francis for 2018, said: “One of my biggest goals in rallying was to be able to drive in a professional team like the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team. Now it’s up to us to make the best of this huge opportunity.”

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “The ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team has consistently set the standard in ERC Junior for others to beat. In Tom Kristensson and Mārtiņš Sesks it has two drivers capable of continuing that tradition in what will be a very competitive field. Kristensson is one of a number of drivers who is moving up to ERC Junior having gained experience and proved his talent at national level. Sesks has been enrolled in the ERC Junior Experience training programme and we look forward to watching him utilise all the skills he’s learned and the knowledge that’s been given to him.”

The ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team’s run of success in ERC Junior makes highly impressive reading with Emil Bergkvist starting the sequence in 2015. Marijan Griebel followed his lead in 2016 with Chris Ingram taking the crown for the German squad last season. Jari Huttunen finished runner-up to team-mate Ingram having graduated to the ERC as the winner of the 2016 ADAC Opel Rallye Cup.

Austrian ace Neubauer plots ERC bid

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 11:00

Having excelled at national level, Hermann Neubauer will take on some of Europe’s rallying elite when he contests the FIA European Rally Championship in 2018.

Austrian champion in 2016 and runner-up to Volkswagen Polo R World Rally Car driver Raimund Baumschlager last season, Neubauer will return to the ERC five years on from his last major foray in the championship when he took part in the 2WD division as a relative novice.

Now armed with considerably more experience and an all-new Ford Fiesta R5 built by M-Sport and prepared by ZM-Racing, Neubauer and co-driver Bernhard Ettel will get their European campaign underway on this month’s Azores Airlines Rallye.

“I am very fortunate that the sponsors I have inspired to support me in the past remain largely on board to allow me to take the next step in my career, namely promotion to the international stage at the top level,” said Austrian Neubauer, 28. “For that I am very, very grateful, because that is not a matter of course. And while putting this programme together has been exhausting, it is paying off.”


As well as the Azores Airlines Rallye from 22-24 March, Neubauer has also confirmed his participation on Rally Islas Canarias, which follows from 3-5 May and holds happy memories for Neubauer after he placed third in ERC 2WD in 2013. “My goal is to do as many ERC events as possible but, at the moment, I’m still in negotiations with other partners,” he explained.

While his full programme for 2018 is still being finalised, Neubauer can count on the support of Max Zellhofer’s ZM-Racing team. “That was very important to me,” he said. “Of course, you have to think about going to an international team for such a project. But Max and I have compared many offers and then found a way of how we can do it together. This is enormously important for me and Bernhard because the guys from ZM-Racing are simply the best team you can ask for to handle this great job, we can rely on them 100 per cent. A brand-new Ford Fiesta R5 from M-Sport is also already at ZM-Racing’s workshop. A big thank you to Richard Millener and the entire team at M-Sport for their great support and build of a sensational car. I cannot wait until the start of the ERC season in less than three weeks.”

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “One of the key objectives of the ERC is to provide a platform for drivers who have excelled at national level to showcase their talents on an international stage. Hermann Neubauer has achieved considerable success in his homeland and will bring that experience and momentum to the ERC where he has a great opportunity to establish himself as a frontrunner.”

Photo: Daniel Fessl/RallyePics.at

ERC Azores organisers make capital gains

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 18:00

Organisers of the Azores Airlines Rallye, the opening event of the FIA European Rally Championship season, used last week’s Lisbon Tourism Fair to showcase their spectacular event.

The Azores Airlines Rallye takes place from 22-24 March and the event in the Portuguese capital provided an opportunity to further promote the ERC counter.

Photo: Jorge Cunha

ERC welcomes OSCARO as an Official Series Partner

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 11:00

Eurosport Events, promoter of the FIA European Rally Championship, is very pleased to announce an exciting partnership with OSCARO, the world's leading online retailer of original automotive spare parts.

Under the terms of the two-year agreement, signed ahead of the upcoming 2018 ERC season, OSCARO will become an Official Series Partner of the ERC, which takes place over eight events across Europe from March to October.

Confirmation of the alliance follows the recent announcement of OSCARO becoming the Series Presenting Partner of the Eurosport Events-promoted WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup.

*Exciting agreement with world’s leading online retailer of original automotive spare parts
*Fans invited to experience OSCARO at European championship rallies
*Pierre-Louis Loubet to carry Team OSCARO colours in ERC Junior Under 28


OSCARO is also supporting ERC Junior Under 28 Championship driver Pierre-Louis Loubet through its Team OSCARO initiative, which, like the ERC, is focused on promoting the next generation of champions.


“Welcoming OSCARO as an Official Series Partner of the FIA European Rally Championship is another significant moment for the ERC,” said ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley. “When you consider the strengths of this company defined by youth, dynamism and proximity to its customers, it’s clear we share a number of values with OSCARO. We are therefore delighted to be joining forces with such a forward-thinking company at a very exciting time for the championship when more and more young drivers are using the ERC as a platform to climb from national level to the world stage.”


Pierre-Noël Luiggi, CEO of OSCARO, said: “With rallies in a number of our key markets, such as Italy, Portugal and Spain, the ERC provides a great opportunity to introduce OSCARO to new customers. And with so many promising young drivers striving to make an impression and earn their big opportunity, the partnership embodies the real spirit of the OSCARO brand and its true love of real competition.”

At all ERC events, fans visiting the service park will be able to discover OSCARO at a dedicated display area where company personnel will be on hand to answer questions and explain more about OSCARO’s services and philosophy.

The 2018 ERC season gets underway with the Azores Airlines Rallye from 22-24 March. The Portuguese event also forms the opening round of the both the ERC Junior Under 27 and ERC Junior Under 28 championships when a number of rising talents will be in action including Team OSCARO’s Pierre-Louis Loubet in a BRC Racing Team Hyundai i20 R5.

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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)