Welcome to the 2019 FIA European Rally Championship, the ultimate training ground for young hopefuls aiming for the top. Providing a clear path of progression from national level to the world stage, the oldest international rally series in existence is also open to all-comers, meaning age is no barrier to competing.
So what’s new for 2019?
New names for ERC Junior categories: The FIA ERC Junior Under 28 and FIA ERC Junior Under 27 championships are renamed for 2019, bringing them inline with other FIA regional championships. ERC Junior U28, for young stars in R5 cars, becomes the FIA ERC1 Junior Championship, while the Pirelli-supported ERC Junior 27, for rising talents in R2 machinery, is retitled the FIA ERC3 Junior Championship.
ERC2 goes from strength to strength: On the back of its most successful season yet in terms of competitor numbers, ERC2 is set for another strong year in 2019 with cars conforming to the R4-K and RGT technical regulations permitted to take part alongside traditional N4 machinery, such as the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X and Subaru Impreza STI.
Abarth Rally Cup joins forces with ERC: The Abarth Rally Cup will run in conjunction with the FIA European Rally Championship in 2019. Contested over six rounds of the eight-event ERC, the Abarth Rally Cup is open to competitors using the lightweight, rear-wheel-drive Italian sportscars, which conform to the FIA’s R-GT category technical regulations. The Abarth 124 rally is available for €110,000, which includes the ERC registration fee.
Rally Hungary is new addition to ERC schedule: Hungary will return to the ERC for the first time since 2003 with a new Tarmac event in Nyíregyháza, northeast of the country, approximately two hours 30 minutes by car from the capital Budapest. While the event was effectively brand new for 2018 when it ran as the Nyíregyháza Rally and counted as the Hungarian championship closer, Nyíregyháza was a regular host of national-level events in the 1980s. With several Hungarian drivers contesting the ERC each season – including back-to-back ERC2 champion Tibor Érdi Jr – a Hungarian round of the championship is perfectly timed. Government and local authority support are other plus points. Rally Hungary is schedule to run from 8-10 November.
Eight of the best: ERC calendar 2019: Contested over eight events across Europe from March to November, the ERC schedule has once again been structured in response to calls from drivers and teams who were keen to cap their number of competitive outings at between six and eight events.
The calendar includes four rallies on asphalt and four on gravel (three on each surface for ERC Junior competitors).
Round 1: Azores Rallye, 21-23 March (ERC Junior), gravel
Round 2: Rally Islas Canarias, 2-4 May (ERC Junior), asphalt
Round 3: Rally Liepāja (Latvia), 24-26 May (ERC Junior), gravel
Round 4: Rally Poland, 28-30 June (ERC Junior), gravel
Round 5: Rally di Roma Capitale (Italy), 19-21 July (ERC Junior), asphalt
Round 6: Barum Czech Rally Zlín, 16-18 August (ERC Junior), asphalt
Round 7: Cyprus Rally, 27-29 September, gravel
Round 8: Rally Hungary (Hungary), 8-10 November, asphalt
Scores on the boards: ERC1 drivers, ERC3 drivers, ERC Teams and ERC Nations will count their best six scores, ERC2 drivers will count their best four scores, ERC1 Junior and ERC3 Junior drivers will count their best four scores from a possible six, ERC Ladies will count their best four scores.
Points are scored as follows:
In addition, bonus points are allocated to the top seven finishers at the end of each leg as follows: 7-6-5-4-3-2-1
Route to the top: As in 2018, ERC Junior is split into two divisions based on driver age and car performance with substantial prize packages on offer to the eventual champions.
FIA ERC1 Junior Championship
ERC1 Junior is for drivers under the age of 28 ahead of 2019. Featuring six rounds with the best four scores counting, drivers use R5 cars. The champion receives 100,000 euros to contest the closing two rounds of the 2019 ERC season – which don’t form part of the ERC1 Junior schedule – as their prize.
FIA ERC3 Junior Championship
ERC3 Junior is for drivers under the age of 27 at the start of 2019 competing in R2 cars on Pirelli tyres. With the best four rounds from six counting, the winner gets two rounds of the 2020 FIA ERC in a Motorsport Italia ŠKODA Fabia R5.
Rallying’s talent factory
The following are a selection former ERC drivers with recent or current WRC experience:
Craig Breen: ERC runner-up 2015 > factory Hyundai WRC driver 2019
Juho Hänninen: ERC champion 2012 > factory Toyota WRC driver 2019
Jari Huttunen: ERC Junior U27 runner-up 2017 > Hyundai WRC2 driver 2018
Kajetan Kajetanowicz: ERC champion 2015, 2016, 2017 > WRC2 driver 2019
Jan Kopecký: ERC champion 2013 > APRC champ 2014 > WRC2 champ 2018
Esapekka Lappi: ERC champion 2014 > factory Citroën WRC driver 2019
Jari-Matti Latvala: ERC driver 2003 > factory Toyota WRC driver 2019
Stéphane Lefebvre: ERC Junior champion 2014 > Citroën WRC2 driver 2018
Sébastien Loeb: ERC event winner 2000, 2001 > factory Hyundai WRC 2019
Kris Meeke: ERC event winner 2009 > factory Toyota WRC driver 2019
Andreas Mikkelsen: ERC event winner 2012 > factory Hyundai WRC driver 2019
Thierry Neuville: ERC event winner 2011 > factory Hyundai WRC driver 2019
Ott Tänak: ERC event winner 2014 > factory Toyota WRC driver 2019
FIA European Rally Championship for Teams
Registered teams can nominate a maximum of three cars from ERC-registered drivers, in either four- or two-wheel drive configuration or a combination of both, to score points on each event. The results of the two highest-placed cars from a team count, with teams tallying their best six scores from a possible eight. And with points distributed according to the ERC1/ERC2 and ERC3 classifications of the rally, a team could score a maximum of 50 points per event with 25 on offer in 4WD and 25 also up for grabs in 2WD. There’s a prestigious FIA title up for grabs for the winning team.
ERC Nations’ Cup
Introduced in 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 ERC1/ERC2 or ERC3 configuration or a combination of both, can chase points on each event, although it’s 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 ERC1/ERC2, 25 points for ERC3) per event. The eligible teams in 2018 were: ACCR Czech Team, ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team and Rallye Team Spain.
ERC Ladies’ Trophy
ERC promoter Eurosport Events is committed to encouraging the participation of women in motorsport and has revamped the ERC Ladies’ Trophy accordingly. Rather than recognise the achievements of women when competing against other women drivers, to promote gender equality, female drivers will score points based on where they appear in the final order using a dedicated scoring system. All rounds of the ERC are included in the ERC Ladies’ Trophy with all classes eligible. Drivers count their best four scores.
The scoring system is as follows: 1 = 100; 2 = 90; 3 = 80; 4 = 75; 5 = 70; 6 = 65; 7 = 60; 8 = 55; 9 = 50; 10 = 45; 11 = 43; 12 = 41; 13 = 39; 14 = 37; 15 = 35; 16 = 33; 17 = 31; 18 = 29; 19 = 27; 20 = 25; 21 = 23; 22 = 21; 23 = 19; 24 = 17; 25 = 15; 26 = 13; 27 = 11; 28 = 9; 29 = 7; 30 = 5; all remaining positions = 1 point.
FIA ERC1: For FIA-homologated cars conforming to R5 regulations. That means 1.6-litre turbocharged engines, 32mm restrictors to control performance, four-wheel drive, five-speed gearboxes and price caps to keep design and build expenditure in check. Think Citroën C3 R5, Ford Fiesta R5, Hyundai i20 R5, Peugeot 208 T16, ŠKODA Fabia R5 and Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
FIA ERC2: Typically for more standard ‘showroom’ spec machinery, albeit with turbocharged engines and four-wheel drive, such as the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X and the Subaru Impreza STI. However, in addition to N4, cars built to R4-K and RGT rules are also allowed from 2019. And that means cars fitted with the R4-K ‘kit’ of parts from ORECA are allowed, along with the RGT-based Abarth 124 rally among others.
FIA ERC3: It’s front-wheel-drive hot hatches in essence. R3 cars, like the Renault Clio R3T with its 1.6-litre turbo engine, has the pace edge compared to the smaller R2 models, which dominate numerically. These include Opel’s ADAM R2, Peugeot’s 208 R2 or the Ford Fiesta R2T.
FIA ERC1 Junior: Drivers aged 28 and under on 1 January 2019 in R5 cars are eligible, providing they are registered for ERC1 of course.
FIA ERC3 Junior: For drivers aged 27 and under on 1 January 2019 in R2 cars on Pirelli control tyres.
Abarth Rally Cup: The Abarth Rally Cup will feature on six rounds of the ERC in 2019. It’s open to competitors using the lightweight, rear-wheel-drive Abarth 124 rally.