The FIA European Rally Championship will get more TV and a prize fund totalling 200,000 Euros when the action begins in Austria from 4-6 January 2015.
ERC promoter Eurosport Events has created a package of financial rewards in partnership with several key stakeholders to assist drivers without manufacturer support competing in the ERC.
It is the first time in recent history that a major international rally championship has offered a season-long prize fund and is another example of how Eurosport Events is assisting drivers and teams contesting the ERC, having previously introduced a number of measures to reduce the cost of competition.
The round-by-round prize fund of 20,000 Euros will be allocated to the seven highest-placed eligible drivers according to the final official classification:
First position: €7000
Second position: €5000
Third position: €3000
Fourth position: €2000
Fifth position: €1000
Sixth position: €1000
Seventh position: €1000
To be eligible, drivers must register for the ERC, receive no manufacturer support*, use tyres from one of the three ERC partner companies (Michelin, Pirelli and Yokohama) and not compete in a Regional Rally Car.
And in more good news for crews chasing ERC success in 2015, Eurosport will increase its coverage of the championship with an exciting new preview show aired the day before every round. This new 13-minute slot is in addition to the 26-minute highlights programmes at the end of each full day of an ERC event, plus the popular Inside ERC magazine show, which is broadcast for 26 minutes on the Tuesday evening after every round.
The rising stars of the ERC Junior Championship will be among those to benefit from the expanded television package. As well as the current 15 minutes dedicated broadcast time on Eurosport, there will be additional coverage of ERC Junior in the new preview programme.
Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: “We are committed to making the ERC as affordable as possible for our drivers and teams. Offering prize money is another example of this and we are thrilled, with the support of our partners, to be able to support privateers. We are also delighted to announce additional TV coverage of the ERC on Eurosport, which will offer more added value to the partners and sponsors supporting the ERC drivers and teams.”
*Eurosport Events will determine privateer status in consultation with the manufacturer in question
World rallycross superstar Reinis Nitišs will switch codes when his native Latvia hosts round two of the FIA European Rally Championship in February.
The ace teenager will swap his Ford Fiesta Supercar for an R2-specification Fiesta rally car, run by Latvian team Sports Racing Technologies, for Rally Liepāja. Latvian champion Māris Neikšāns will coach and co-drive Nitišs.
“While taking part in the World Rallycross Championship, I understood that there is still a lot to learn in order to repeat what has been achieved in my debut season,” said Nitiss. “As the opening event of the next season is four months away, I am looking for ways to make this time count in the best possible way – by improving my driving skills. I am incredibly happy that we have managed to join the technical expertise of Sports Racing Technologies with the know-how of driver coaching of Māris Neikšāns, and that I will be able to race here in Latvia!
“Rally has a lot of unpredictable situations and the road surface can change at any second – this will help to develop my driving skills, as I have to adjust to the varying conditions momentarily. My goal for the race is to drive all the special stages, in order to fully use the opportunity to learn and improve. In this rally, I will not be fighting for the win, instead being in a fight with myself, as there will definitely be situations that I will not have experienced before as a pilot. An example of this is the longest special stage of the rally, which, at 37 kilometres, is roughly the distance that I drive during a full rallycross event.”
Using ice and snow-coated forest tracks, the event is one of the highlights of the ERC season and will run for a third time from 6-8 February 2015.
With the entry list for round one of the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship closing on 21 December a number of star names have been confirmed for the Internationale Jännerrallye powered by GaGa Energy from 4-6 January.
The preliminary entry list issued by event organisers earlier today includes a number of standout ERC aces such as Robert Consani, Kajetan Kajetanowicz, Alexey Lukyanuk and Jaromír Tarabus plus ERC Junior champion Stéphane Lefebvre, Czech title-winner Václav Pech (pictured), promising newcomer Jonathan Hirschi and rising Austrian star Hermann Neubauer. The new-for-2015 ERC2 and ERC3 categories have attracted several promising runners.
Click here to view the preliminary entry list.