Fri 12 Jan 2024

ERC Take Five with Iain Campbell

With preparations for the 2024 FIA European Rally Championship in full swing, caught up with ERC championship manager Iain Campbell to talk new events, new cars, new drivers and much more.

The 2024 ERC season is just four months away from starting. What are you getting most excited about?
“There’s a lot but if I had to pick three things, I’ll go for the rising quality of the events, the closeness of the competition and the prospect of more future champion drivers breaking through and showcasing their huge potential at international level. In 2023 we were once again blessed by some fantastically organised and promoted rallies, epic scraps for position and a host of young drivers demonstrating real talent. I’m very much expecting more of the same in 2024 and I can’t wait for Rally Hungary to open the new season on 12 April. There’s nothing stopping this season from being the best yet.”

New events in Poland and Wales, the return of Estonia, plus a new version of Rally Hungary feature on the 2024 calendar. How good will these rallies be?
“Quite simply they wouldn’t be on the calendar if they didn’t match up to the high standards we demand from all rounds of the ERC. When you consider two ERC events from 2023, ORLEN Rally Poland and Tet Rally Liepāja, are worthy of slots on the WRC calendar for this year, that’s a clear demonstration of how high the standard is. While Rali Ceredigion (below) and Rally Silesia are new to the ERC, they are established events in their own right and count on the experience and expertise of some very good people. I can say with utmost confidence that these two events will create more ERC magic and further raise the bar. Rally Estonia is an event that needs no introduction given what it brought to the FIA World Rally Championship for four seasons and to the ERC for three years before that. Rally Hungary might be relocating and switching surfaces but it’s the same excellent team making it happen. The fact it’s essentially an all-new event makes for an exciting unknown quantity. But let’s not forget the outstanding efforts being made by the organisers of Rally Islas Canarias, Royal Rally of Scandinavia, Rally di Roma Capitale and Barum Czech Rally Zlín to deliver something even better than they did in 2023.”

Toyota is preparing to unleash its Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 in 2024. Can fans expect to see this car in action on ERC events?
“Yes, and we’re hearing very good things about it. But we’ll allow the teams and drivers planning to contest the ERC with this car to make their own announcements in the coming months. However, I must say the fact another global manufacturer is investing in Rally2, the ERC’s headlining category, is a credit to work of the FIA’s rally and technical departments in terms of the regulations. I am sure Citroën, Hyundai, M-Sport and Škoda will be among those makes pushing even harder to enjoy more ERC success.”

The FIA European Rally Championship for Tyre Suppliers is new for 2024. How will this work and why is it necessary?
“The rules state that a nominated tyre supplier may score points with the two best placed Rally2 cars registered in ERC and fitted with its tyres in the final classification of each rally. Additional cars fitted by the same supplier may neither score points nor detract points from other cars. But there’s a lot more to this new title than some regulation wording as it will truly recognise the incredible commitment of the ERC’s tyre partners, Hankook, Michelin, MRF and Pirelli. They are all actively engaged in the ERC by supporting drivers and teams and carrying out ongoing development, albeit in line with what the regulations allow and with sustainability firmly in mind. The FIA European Rally Championship for Tyre Suppliers was born out of a proposal from us, WRC Promoter, to the Rallies Commission, which was then ratified by the FIA World Motor Sport Council. So a lot of work has gone into making this new title a reality and we’re expecting big things to come from it.”

Prior to Christmas the new-for-2024 Fiesta Rally3 Trophy was launched. What will this bring to the ERC?
“Since its debut in 2021, the Fiesta Rally3 from M-Sport Poland has delivered not just from a performance point of view but the fact it’s cheaper to run than a Rally2 car, thereby providing an accessible route into four-wheel drive. One-make categories have a proven history in delivering top competition and in finding the next superstar. The fact that M-Sport Poland has chosen the ERC as the platform to deliver this new competition is testament to the quality of the events and the level of promotion on offer. We look forward to working with Maciej Woda and his team at M-Sport Poland to make the Fiesta Rally3 Trophy a real success.”

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM