From 04 to 06/01/2015
The asphalt showcase first ran in 1969 and attracts huge numbers of spectators thanks in part to its running over the Austrian Bank Holiday weekend, which has resulted in the unique Sunday to Tuesday schedule for 2015. Based in Freistadt, 40 kilometres north of Linz in Upper Austria, the stages in the spectacular Mühlviertel region use fast, undulating country roads, with ice and snow increasing the challenge. The last two editions of the Jännerrallye have been decided by final-stage showdowns with ex-Formula One racer Robert Kubica famously coming out on top in 2014 for his first major international rally win.
From 06 to 08/02/2015
Rally Liepāja took place for the first time in 2013 when it ran up the Baltic coast from Liepāja to Ventspils in Latvia’s far west. With Ventspils no longer on the itinerary, a significantly revamped route for 2014 featured high-speed forest stages in the Liepāja and Kuldīga districts. Leg one was based around Kuldīga, 88 kilometres north of Liepāja, with leg two centred on Aizpute, 50 kilometres north of Liepāja. Changes for 2015 include a street stage in host city Liepāja and a new ceremonial start and finish location. Despite freezing temperatures, fans flock to the stages in great number.
From 03 to 04/04/2015
First held in 1931, the Circuit of Ireland Rally is not only one of the oldest rallies in the world, it’s also one of the most prestigious and has the honour of hosting the ERC’s first pure asphalt round of the 2015 season. Based in Belfast, the rally runs on challenging country lanes in Northern Ireland while some fan-friendly street stages in town centre locations are also set to form part of the itinerary with organisers promising a “bigger and better event” than in 2014. The rally will also welcome competitors from the Irish Tarmac and Northern Ireland Stage championships.
From 04 to 06/06/2015
Based on the archipelago’s largest island of São Miguel in the mid-Atlantic, the event will celebrate its half-century in 2015. The timed tests criss-cross breath-taking scenery and lush countryside, and are characterised by their sandy surface and narrow and undulating nature. And because the stages are often no wider than the width of a car, there is simply no margin for error, particularly on the Sete Cedades test, which runs along the rim of a volcanic crater lake. Changeable weather is also a factor with conditions switching from sunshine to showers and patches of fog thrown in for good measure.
From 25 to 27/06/2015
One of the most popular fixtures in international rallying, the Geko Ypres Rally turned 50 in 2014 when local legend Freddy Loix scored a record-extending ninth win. Using farmland roads around the historic market town in western Belgium, the narrow sealed-surface stages are lined by drainage ditches and telegraph poles and characterised by tight junctions that catch out the unwary. Following Free Practice, Qualifying Stage and Shakedown, the action is traditionally contained in a 30-hour window, making the rally a real test for car and crew. The event is a round of the Belgian championship and new-for-2015 FIA R-GT Cup.
From 17 to 19/07/2015
An ERC newcomer for 2014, auto24 Rally Estonia was big on fast, jump-coated gravel stages. It was also big on spectator numbers, innovation and excellent organisation to the extent it scooped the coveted ERC Rally of the Year Award. Although the event’s headquarters and service park were located in the southern town of Otepää, Tartu – the second largest city in Estonia – played a significant role in the fifth running of the event in 2014 by hosting the ceremonial start and finish, plus a street stage in Tartu and Elva.
From 28 to 30/08/2015
Ever-present in the ERC since the championship’s streamlining in 2004, Barum Czech Rally Zlín turns 45 in 2015 and will once again take place around the South Moravian university city, 300 kilometres south of the Czech capital Prague. It’s a Tarmac test like no other due to the bumpy and sometimes broken nature of the road surface. To add to the challenge, several stages feature high-speed blasts through forest areas and intermittent showers are always a possibility. While the weather might be hard to predict, huge numbers of fans follow the action, especially on the opening night time Zlín superspecial.
From 25 to 27/09/2015
With its origins dating back to 1970, the Cyprus Rally returned to the ERC schedule for the first time since 1999 when Nicosia hosted the thrilling action in 2014. And to mark the occasion, the Cypriot capital was the setting of an exciting street stage, which included a section through the United Nations-controlled buffer zone between the historic city’s Greek Cypriot and Turkish inhabited areas. The ERC’s only mixed-surface event, which also counts for FIA Middle East Rally Championship points, will be back on the roster in September 2015 when crews will once again battle challenging stages and high ambient temperatures.
From 10 to 11/10/2015
Greece made a successful return to the ERC in March 2014 following a lengthy absence when the seaside town of Loutraki on the banks of the Gulf of Corinth hosted the 60th running of the Acropolis Rally. Having last appeared on the ERC schedule in 1968, Greece’s comeback featured one day on fast asphalt roads and the second leg on more traditional rough gravel tracks having begun with a spectacular ceremonial start above the Corinth Canal. The event will run as Rally of Greece when it takes place in October 2015.
From 29 to 31/10/2015
Based in the towns of Martigny and Sion in southwest Switzerland, the popular asphalt rally had been scheduled as an ERC reserve event for 2015 but replaces Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse on the 10-round ERC calendar as the prestigious season-closer. With stages climbing ice-coated cols and through demanding gravel sections, the event is ranked as one of the toughest, albeit perhaps the most picturesque, on the ERC schedule. The rally, in its 56th year, also forms the closing round of the Swiss championship and regularly attracts big entry numbers with local experts providing formidable opposition to the ERC regulars.