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European Rally Championship
Updated: 14 min 38 sec ago

Magalhães back on form with Azores ERC podium

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 19:00

Bruno Magalhães marked his return to action following injury with third place on his home round of the FIA European Rally Championship, the Azores Airlines Rallye.

Magalhães suffered back injuries in a crash on last October’s Rally Liepāja in Latvia, which put an end to his ERC title bid.

Fully recovered, Magalhães completed the Azores podium in his ARC Sport ŠKODA Fabia R5 alongside co-driver Hugo Magalhães.

“I think we have made a very good job,” said the Portuguese. “We had some [mechanical] issues and, unfortunately, we lost some time on the first stage but I’m happy with my pace and I’m happy that I’m completely recovered with confidence again and I hope to go to the next rally.”

The 2018 ERC continues on Rally Islas Canarias from 3-5 May.

MOL’s man on a roll in the ERC

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 13:00

Norbert Herczig stepped up to the FIA European Rally Championship in style with sixth place on the Azores Airlines Rallye.

Having dominated all things Hungarian rallying, Herczig is contesting a full ERC campaign in 2018 in his MOL Racing Team ŠKODA Fabia R5.

And he demonstrated an obvious ability on an event he was contesting for the first time with a top-six finish.

“It was a very difficult rally but we learn very much and my confidence was much better by the finish,” said Herczig.

Monteiro impresses on ERC R5 debut

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 07:00

Aloísio Monteiro made a strong start to his FIA European Rally Championship campaign with a finish on his first outing in an R5 car.

The Portuguese placed P22 overall on the Azores Airlines Rallye, his home round of the series, as he made his debut at the wheel of an ARC Sport-run ŠKODA Fabia R5.

Had it not been for a front differential issue, the Porto-based driver could have finished higher up the order alongside new co-driver André Couceiro.

"We reached the last day with a good pace, improving as a pair and this was clearly evident in the times of the stages,” said Monteiro. “Unfortunately, a problem with the front differential caused us to lose time [on the final] morning. In order to achieve the goals we set ourselves we have lowered the pace and we finished the race.”

Monteiro and Couceiro will be back on ERC duty when Rally Islas Canarias hosts the second round of the series from 3-5 May.

My ERC rally. By Catie Munnings

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 19:00

Catie Munnings began her FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship bid with a fine fifth in class on the Azores Airlines Rallye. This is what the Saintéloc Junior Team had to say.

“It was an incredible rally and I’m really happy to be at the finish. I know I can do a lot better and push a lot harder but I kept a level head to get here and big thanks to the team who worked really hard to get me here.

“Friday was a complicated day but I was always expecting that. It’s a completely different style of rallying in the Azores, it’s blown my mind. My goal was always to finish this rally because I went out so early last year. If you don’t count last year, this was only my second rally on gravel. It’s a tough one to learn but it’s important to take all the kilometres that I can. We had to keep a sensible head.

“It was very foggy on Saturday morning and very slippery so we just took that easy because I have no experience of those stages and the day was probably the trickiest day for me personally. I was still trying to get a good feeling with the car. I was not very confident on the fast sections, it felt like it was moving a lot. I’m trying to lean on the experience of my engineers or the other guys in my team to figure out if it’s me and just getting used to the surface or if there is something I can do to change the car.

“In the first stage on Saturday we spun and got stuck in a really narrow section so we were doing a 25-point turn to try to get out of it which wasn’t ideal. We were just making sure of every corner and even like that it was very easy to have hairy moments, very sideways and very slippery, not a constant grip at all.

“We were down to 2.4s a kilometre which is cool for us especially on gravel because we have no experience. I think sometimes I forget I really haven’t got much experience on gravel and it’s tough when you come up against other guys who are on gravel all the time but it’s the best place to learn.”

Good ERC Junior U28 experience pleases Kreim

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 13:00

German champion Fabian Kreim has described his FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship debut as a “very good experience”.

The ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland driver finished fifth in class on last week’s Azores Airlines Rallye after a puncture on day two slowed his progress alongside co-driver Frank Christian.

“In the end it was very good experience for us for sure,” said the ŠKODA Fabia R5-driving German. “The speed was coming step by step. Friday was a very tough day for us, especially in the beginning because we had a puncture on Sete Cidades and lost a lot of time, we lost the rally there. In the afternoon we tried to push and hit a wall which was also not so good. I did not find the perfect rhythm in the afternoon and Saturday was very tough, very slippery with a lot of fog.”

Érdi Jr looks ahead to next event following early Azores ERC2 exit

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 07:00

Tibor Érdi Jr decided against restarting on the Azores Airlines Rallye in order to focus on the next event, Rally Islas Canarias.

Hungarian Érdi Jr, the defending ERC2 champion, retired on Thursday’s opening section with broken suspension but elected not to return under restart rules on Saturday in order to “save” his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X for the upcoming Tarmac counter from 3-5 May.

And with a new scoring system for 2018 permitting drivers to count their best four scores only, Érdi Jr felt bagging fewer points from the first event wouldn’t aid his title chances.

“There was no point to waste the tyres, we save the car,” said Érdi Jr.

Pellier learns from the best in the ERC

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 19:00

Laurent Pellier made the most of his early Azores Airlines Rallye exit by watching his rivals in action on the FIA European Rally Championship qualifier.

Pellier’s charge came to an abrupt end on the opening afternoon when an electrical issue struck the Frenchman’s PEUGEOT 208 T16 and forced him into restart mode for leg two.

Unable to tackle Friday’s stages in his PEUGEOT Rally Academy entry, Pellier spent part of the day attempting to glean driving tips from his fellow ERC competitors by heading out into the São Miguel countryside to watch the drama unfold.

“We retired on Thursday because we had an electrical problem,” explained the R5 category newcomer. “I would have preferred to stay in the car but that’s the way it works. Instead we went up to the stages on Friday so I could see my opponents because we want to have more performance."

Strong ERC Junior U27 start for ACCR’s Brož

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 13:00

Dominik Brož began his FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship campaign with a fine fourth in class on last week’s Azores Airlines Rallye.

Part of the ACCR Czech Team, which is backed by Autoklub of the Czech Republic, Brož recovered from two punctures to register a strong haul of points alongside co-driver Petr Těšínský.

“We had two punctures, one on Thursday and one on Friday but in three years we’ve had something like no punctures,” said Brož, who is part of the ERC Junior Experience training programme. “The stages were good on Saturday, we enjoyed but we could only wait for mistakes from other ERC Junior guys to move forward because we lost a lot of time with the punctures.

“It’s a good rally but I hope the next rally will be better for me. I am very happy to be here without crash so big thanks to Czech federation, my sponsors, my team and the guys in the service for their support.”

Loubet fast but out of luck in ERC Junior U28

Mon, 03/26/2018 - 07:00

Pierre-Louis Loubet was fast but out of luck on last week’s Azores Airlines Rallye, where the Team OSCARO-backed Frenchman was making his FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship debut.

Driving a Hyundai i20 R5 for the BRC Racing Team, Loubet had been expected to challenge for ERC Junior U28 honours only for a mechanical glitch to force his retirement on Thursday afternoon.

But he hit back when he restarted on Saturday to post several impressive stage times alongside co-driver and fellow Frenchman Vincent Landais.

“It was a good final afternoon with the times and I’m happy to learn in this rally,” said Loubet, whose father Yves won the ERC title in 1989. “Our performance was not so bad for the first time here and when we come back next year I will be much better for sure.”

Of his Thursday exit, Loubet said: “I don’t know why, but I had no power and I had to stop. It was the first time with the car and important to take the maximum experience so to start like this was not a good feeling. I spent Friday at the hotel, in the swimming pool, because I don’t like to watch the drivers on the stages when I am not driving, it makes me more frustrated.”

FIA ERC JUNIOR UNDER 27 CHAMPIONSHIP POST-EVENT QUOTES

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 20:11

The 2018 FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship got underway on the Azores Airlines Rallye from 22-24 March. This is what the Pirelli-equipped drivers had to say following the spectacular gravel event.

RFEDA-backed Llarena’s full attack pays dividends in ERC Junior U27

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 19:00

Efrén Llarena credited his “full attack” for his late capture of second place in the FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship on the Azores Airlines Rally, which finished in Ponta Delgada on Saturday evening.

Llarena trailed Mārtiņš Sesks starting the final stage but took advantage when the Latvian’s Opel ADAM developed a gearbox glitch to take second on his category debut.

 “What a weekend,” said the Rally Team Spain driver. “We tried to attack, full attack and we were second. It was perfect, we did it.”

Llarena, whose PEUGEOT 208 R2 is co-driven by Sara Fernández, is competing in the ERC after earning a fully funded drive courtesy of the Spanish motorsport federation RFEDA, his prize for winning the Beca R2 title in his homeland last season.

And had it not been for a puncture on leg one, Llarena could have challenged Diogo Gago for class honours.

“We had a puncture on the rear left, 17 kilometres before the finish of special stage six and we lost 1m10s, which was not so bad,” said Llarena. “We tried to push hard but on the last loop two stages were cancelled so we did not have the time to make up the gap. Saturday morning was good for us. We tried to attack and did some good times. I was happy with the performance of the car and the set-up was good."

FIA ERC JUNIOR UNDER 28 CHAMPIONSHIP POST-EVENT QUOTES

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 15:35

The 2018 FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship got underway on the Azores Airlines Rallye from 22-24 March. This is what the young stars in R5 cars had to say following the spectacular gravel event.

All good for Åhlin on ERC Junior U28 debut

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 13:00

Fredrik Åhlin marked his FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship debut with a fine second place in class on the Azores Airlines Rallye yesterday.

Swede Åhlin, who was also contesting the gravel spectacular for the first time, headed CA1 Sport team-mate Rhys Yates to finish runner-up to Chris Ingram in a ŠKODA Fabia R5 podium lockout.

“It’s good, second place in ERC Junior U28 is a good start to the year so I’m happy with that,” said Åhlin, who has stepped up from the British championship this season. “It’s been a difficult two days but we’ve done our best and I’m quite happy.

“We should have gone on harder [tyres] on Friday afternoon, we lost a bit of time but you learn from this. The visibility was really bad on Friday morning, the fog kept coming and going. It’s a difficult rally and for sure I would be quicker if I knew the roads. I had one half-spin in stage eight but that was it really so I must be pleased with that. We had a small problem with the oil pressure but it was manageable. I was trying to drive steady and smooth on the final day, in the middle of the road with no dramas.”

ERC AZORES POST-EVENT PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 09:11

Alexey Lukyanuk/Alexey Arnautov, Ricardo Moura/Antonío Costa and Bruno Magalhães/Hugo Magalhães, attended the post-event press conference for the Azores Airlines Rallye, round one of the FIA European Rally Championship. A transcript follows.

They said what? ERC drivers on the Azores Airlines Rallye

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 07:00

Alexey Lukyanuk/Alexey Arnautov, Ricardo Moura/Antonío Costa and Bruno Magalhães/Hugo Magalhães attended the post-event press conference for round one of the 2018 FIA European Rally Championship, the Azores Airlines Rallye. This is what they had to say.

Q:
After such a disappointing retirement here last year you’ve come very, very good with an amazing victory. How happy are you right now?

AL:
Actually I am a bit uncomfortable because my pants are a bit wet with all the champagne. Actually I am absolutely happy because with these two guys it was a great battle. They won the two previous years so I am really proud to be in this company and happy to win in front of so many spectators who always support us and cheer us. Thank you very much for your support Azores!

Q:
This rally is ranked as one of the hardest in the world but you’ve just driven through with no mistakes, no problems. What was the difference with your approach this year?

AL:
I tried to suppress my open way to drive, my feelings and my intention to push harder all the time. It was a really tough rally for me having to control myself but close to the finish line everything just boiled over and I made some donuts and lost a few seconds. But it doesn’t matter because I’ve waited so long for this victory. Everything worked and it paid off and thank you for the team and sponsors and everybody who supports us. We’ll keep going like this I hope.

Q:
Turning to your co-driver Alexey Arnautov, now Alexey what was going through your mind when Alexey started doing those donuts? Did you think he was crazy?

AL:
Well I hadn’t understood at that moment what was happening. At the end of the donut it was done so what could I do. I asked him ‘what are you doing?’ and he said ‘I’m happy!’ and I said ‘okay, carry on!’.

Q:
Turning to Ricardo Moura, not quite the victory of 12 months ago but a very impressive second place on your first rally in your ŠKODA Fabia R5. Just talk us through your rally?

RM:
I am quite happy to be with these two super drivers. Alexey is definitely the fastest driver in the European championship and Bruno did a fantastic job as well as last year in the championship when he finished second overall. I am quite happy to be in this podium with a fantastic second position in front of my home crowd and my home town and the stages I love to do. This is quite nice. A big, big thanks to my sponsors, my team my family, my friends, my co-driver. We did a great job for only the first time with this car. We make no big mistakes, we had some issues like the other drivers had so I am pleased with second place after a tough weekend for everyone and I am quite happy to join these two super drivers on this podium.

Q:
Turning next to your co-driver Antonío Costa, there were a couple of moments that prevented the rally from being better for you such as the puncture on Friday morning. Please talk us through your rally?

AC:
We have some problems during the rally but it was a good rally for us, second place overall and first in the Portuguese championship. We look forward now to the next rally.

Q:
Turning to Bruno Magalhães, now Bruno a few months ago you were in Latvia battling for the European championship but a crash ended it for you and left you in a lot of pain. Now you’re back on the podium you must be very pleased?

BM:
I am here in the podium and we are the last three winners of this rally and for sure we are the best drivers on this rally I think! It’s a big pleasure and I think we have made a very good job. We had some issues and unfortunately today we lost some time on the first stage but I’m happy with my pace and I’m happy that I’m completely recovered with confidence again and I hope to go to the next rally.

Q:
Finally, turning to your co-driver Hugo Magalhães, another fantastic edition of the Azores Airlines Rallye with a record-breaking entry of 35 R5 cars. Just how good is this event and the organisation?

HM:
First of all, I would like to thank everyone for coming, you made it so special for us. It was a good rally, we had some issues over the rally but in the end we have to be happy with our performance and our result. We scored some good points for the championship and actually we are focused on the next rally. The organisers here are among the best organisers and it’s a big pleasure for us to be here.

LUKYANUK LANDS THE BIG PRIZE WITH AZORES ERC WIN

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 00:40

Alexey Lukyanuk laid down an emphatic marker for his ERC rivals to aim for, leading the Azores Airlines Rallye from Thursday afternoon all the way through to Saturday’s final stage, and capping his wining start to this year’s FIA European Rally Championship with donuts before the finish line.​

day-3

Sun, 03/25/2018 - 00:00
content

ERC Ladies: Molinaro perseveres for class win

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 23:25

Tamara Molinaro did not have the easiest of four-wheel-drive debuts in Azores Airlines Rallye, but persevered to secure victory in the FIA European Rally Championship's Ladies category.

A brake problem on Thursday was followed by her Ford Fiesta R5’s engine cutting out occasionally on Frirday morning, and then stoppages in two separate stages which led to four adjusted stage times over the course of leg one.

Thick fog on Saturday morning left Molinaro struggling to find her rhythm, and two punctures came later in the day, but she held on to finish after three tricky days of action.

Catie Munnings made only her second start on a gravel ERC event, and succeeded in her aim to cover every competitive kilometre to build experience. A lost front bumper on Friday was Munnings’ only major scrape on her way to second in ERC Ladies and fifth in ERC Junior U27.

"So happy to finish my 2nd gravel rally! By far the most difficult rally I have driven and a big task to take on the Azores," said Munnings.

"[It's] a miracle to be at the finish after problems and losing time to reverse on every stage apart from one today, but our mission is accomplished and we are at the end.

"Even though I never had confidence on this surface to drive like I know I can, we have some nice stages of only 2,4sec/km behind the fastest Junior. We know where we can improve - and we will be faster again, but for now, I am just happy to take the kilometres on gravel."

Emma Falcón was unable to return for leg two, pulling out midway through Friday suffering back pain from a heavy landing. Not wanting to take any risks, she will focus on recovering for her home round Rally Islas Canarias in May.

 

ERC2: Alonso caps stunning comeback drive with victory

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 23:13

Juan Carlos Alonso turned a 2m53.6s deficit on Thursday evening into FIA European Rally Championship ERC2 victory on Saturday, catching and passing all his rivals in a sensational recovery drive on Azores Airlines Rallye.

Alonso had been set back by a fuel pump failure in Thursday’s superspecial, but had already climbed to second place and one minute behind ERC2 leader Seregi Remennik by Friday night.

Fifteen seconds had already been made up by Alonso in leg two’s opening test, but a spin into a pair of rocks by Remennik expedited Alonso’s charge up the leaderboard, giving him a lead he would not relinquish.

Remennik’s second place nearly disappeared when Russian Performance Motorsport’s ERC2 entrant struck another rock, this time during Tronqueira’s second and final pass. He limped home over four minutes down, but held second regardless.

"Unfortunately, we could not keep first place. The broken wheel at the beginning of the day significantly shortened the gap between us and Alonso. Then we got stuck, that is, hit the rock and got stuck in a very narrow place.

"In addition to everything - cherry on the cake, so to say - was that we hit the same rock as Lukyanuk last year, and just turned the wheel. In general, we are very pleased that we were able to finish such an incredibly complex and incredibly beautiful race."

A broken turbo on Thursday had set Luís Pimentel back, but his patience was rewarded with a spot on the podium. Menderes Okur finished fourth aboard his Toksport WRT-prepared Subaru Impreza STI, happy to have finished in what was a learning experience in only his second ERC start.

Zelindo Melegari had returned for leg two after retiring on Friday with a broken clutch, but his day came to an end once more, this time caused by an accident during SS13.

ERC Junior Under 27: Gago streaks clear for Azores win

Sat, 03/24/2018 - 22:51

Diogo Gago put his local knowledge to great use during Azores Airlines Rallye, further extending a 40 second lead from Friday to secure FIA European Rally Championship Junior U27 victory by over a minute aboard his PEUGEOT 208 R2.

Mārtiņš Sesks had been duelling with Gago for victory on Friday, but come Saturday he was instead looking backwards, fending off Efrén Llarena who had suffered a puncture and lost one minute the day before.

A gearbox problem would settle their battle, Sesks losing first and second gear late on during Tronqueira’s rally-ending test and dropping him behind an ecstatic Llarena.

"Many thanks to the whole team, to this project of the Rally Team Spain, to the sponsors and to all the fans who from home, and some from here too, have supported us and followed every kilometer. This second place is yours too!" said Llarena.

Simon Wagner looked all set to pick up fourth place, but a myriad of technical gremlins ground his car to a halt shortly after leg two’s penultimate stage. Power steering failure coupled with a loose gear level made finishing SS14 difficult, and gearbox failure sidelined Wagner only 22 competitive kilometres from rally end

Dominik Brož moved up to fourth place as a consequence, as Wagner’s Sainteloc Junior team-mate Catie Munnings would take fifth. Mattia Vita had retired with broken front left suspension on Friday, but returned on Saturday to claim sixth place in ERC Junior U27.

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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)