Thu 10 Mar 2022

ERC’s exciting new era all set for lift-off

This week’s Rally Serras de Fafe - Felgueiras - Cabreira e Boticas (11 - 13 March) marks the start of an exciting new era for the FIA European Rally Championship.

Revamped regulations, the inclusion of the bonus points-paying Power Stage on all events and the chance for fans to watch every stage live through WRC Promoter’s WRC+ platform are just some of what’s in store in 2022.

Based in the rally-mad town of Fafe in northern Portugal, this week’s event is the first of eight rounds for a championship that began back in 1953, but maintains its position as the established feeder category to the FIA World Rally Championship.

Iain Campbell, the new-for-2022 ERC championship manager, is predicting another season of wide-open action as the latest batch of young drivers gain the experience they need for the next step of their careers following their graduation from national level.

“It’s an exciting time in the FIA European Rally Championship and we’re delighted the new season is about to begin on challenging stages and with a talented line-up of drivers in great cars prepared by their highly professional teams taking part,” said Campbell. 

“While the start of WRC Promoter’s tenure as ERC promoter has already led to some key changes, such as a Power Stage on all events and live streaming of all stages, 2022 is actually the start of a year of transition when we will assess all that’s good about the ERC and start the process of making things even better for all stakeholders, competitors and fans. 

“We’ll be sharing news of what’s being planned for 2023 later this season but, for now, we’re all set for the start of an exciting new chapter in the long and successful history of the ERC.”

Trailer: Rally Serras de Fafe - Felgueiras - Cabreira e Boticas

Rules refresher

The addition of the Power Stage means no more leg bonus points, while free practice and the qualifying stage are for drivers in Rally2 cars only, with all other drivers using shakedown for the final preparations. 

At the end of leg one, the top 15 (rather than the top 10) are reseeded for leg two. To score ERC points, drivers must use tyres supplied by a manufacturer registered with the FIA and WRC Promoter under a new system from 2022. The registered tyre companies are Michelin, MRF Tyres and Pirelli. 

ERC3 is for Rally3 cars, with ERC4 home for Rally4 and Rally5 machinery. The series’ junior structure moves away from the previous two-tier system and is replaced by Junior ERC for drivers under 27 on 1 January 2022 in Pirelli-equipped Rally4 and Rally5 cars. 

ERC Open replaces ERC2 and is for Rally2 Kit, RGT and Group N4 cars. The Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT for the Renault Clio Rally5 begins on the Azores Rallye later this month.

All events take place from Friday-Sunday with the exception of May’s Rally Islas Canarias, which runs from Thursday - Saturday and also hosts the Junior ERC opener.

Calendar overview

Of the seven confirmed rounds, three are asphalt-based with four running on mainly gravel stages. Details of the eighth event planned as the season finale will be announced in due course.

Champions aplenty in action

National champions, European championship category winners, experienced campaigners and rising stars fill the list of registrations across the various categories. A reminder of who’s taking part on Rally Serras de Fafe - Felgueiras - Cabreira e Boticas is available by clicking HERE.

Tyre partners expand their involvement

The ERC’s official tyre partners, Michelin, MRF Tyres and Pirelli, are all actively involved in the championship this season.

Michelin is supporting the ERC-Michelin Talent Factory, an incentive scheme for drivers under 28 in Rally2 cars using Michelin tyres. 

MRF Tyres is supporting a three-strong line-up under the Team MRF Tyres banner, while Pirelli is the official partner of the FIA Junior ERC and is supporting the prize package on offer to the champion.

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