Why change a winning formula? ERC calendar remains at eight events for 2018

Why change a winning formula? ERC calendar remains at eight events for 2018

06/12/2017 22:00

The FIA European Rally Championship will continue to feature eight events next season after the switch to a smaller schedule in response to feedback from teams proved a success when trialled in 2017.

Ratified at a meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris today (6 December) the calendar runs from March to October to ensure a regular flow of rallies.

ERC season 66 begins with the Azores Airlines Rallye on the Portuguese mid-Atlantic Ocean archipelago from 22-24 March and concludes on Latvia’s Baltic coast from 12-14 October for Rally Liepāja, where five coveted FIA titles were decided this year.

Two ERC mainstays, Rally Islas Canarias and Barum Czech Rally Zlín, occupy their now traditional early May and late August slots respectively, while the Cyprus Rally keeps its mid-June date, two weeks after the legendary Acropolis Rally in Greece*.

Rally Poland returns to the ERC roster for the first time since triple European champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz won his home event in 2013, while there’s a July date for Rally di Roma Capitale, which brought Italy back to the ERC fold last September.

The gravel-based Rally Poland takes over from the all-asphalt Rally Rzeszow as the Polish ASN’s European championship counter for the season ahead when it celebrates its 75th edition.

Structured once again 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 ERC calendar includes three rallies on asphalt and five on gravel (three on each surface for ERC Junior Under 27 and ERC Junior Under 28). There are no clashes between the ERC and world championship schedules.

Drivers in ERC1 and ERC3 count their best six scores from eight, while it’s four from six in ERC Junior Under 28 and ERC Junior Under 27. For the first time, ERC2 and the ERC Ladies’ Trophy competitors will count their best four scores from eight. The FIA European Rally Championship for Teams, which was restructured to great effect in 2017, will count the best six scores from eight by registered entrants.

FIA European Rally Championship calendar 2018
22-24 March: Azores Airlines Rallye (Portugal, gravel) ERC Junior
3-5 May: Rally Islas Canarias (Spain, asphalt) ERC Junior
1-3 June: Acropolis Rally (Greece, gravel)*
15-17 June: Cyprus Rally (Cyprus, gravel)
20-22 July: Rally di Roma Capitale (Italy, asphalt) ERC Junior
24-26 August: Barum Czech Rally Zlín (Czech Republic, asphalt) ERC Junior
21-23 September: Rally Poland (Poland, gravel) ERC Junior
12-14 October: Rally Liepāja (Latvia, gravel) ERC Junior
*Subject to signing of event promoter agreement

ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley said: “We’re very pleased to announce the FIA European Rally Championship calendar for the 2018 season when we will continue to run eight events in response to feedback from our drivers and teams. It says a great deal about the popularity and success of the ERC, in particular the restructured ERC Junior Championship and European Rally Championship for Teams, that we will continue to work with the same national federations as we did in 2017 and we look forward to strengthening those ties and making improvements wherever possible for our mutual benefit.”

Promoted by Eurosport Events under a 10-year agreement with motorsport’s world governing body and run first in 1953, the FIA European Rally Championship is 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.

Mārtiņš Sesks has regained first place in the FIA European Rally Championship’s Under 27 category on Azores Airlines Rallye, following adjustments to stage times awarded in SS8 and SS9 related to incidents causing delays for multiple drivers.

Tamara Molinaro continues to head the ERC Ladies’ Trophy category on the Azores Airlines Rallye, while Emma Falcón retired with back pain before midday service.

Sergei Remennik has resumed his lead of Azores Airlines Rallye’s FIA European Rally Championship ERC2 category, following an unfortunate retirement for nearest challenger Zelindo Melegari with clutch failure.

Diogo Gago took on the might of ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team’s pair of FIA ERC Junior Under 27 factory drivers on the Azores Airlines Rallye’s Friday stages and succeeded aboard his PEUGEOT 208 R2, moving from third to first over the course of a dramatic multi-way battle.

Chris Ingram and Martin Koči traded places throughout Friday’s Azores Airlines Rallye stages in a tight battle for FIA ERC Junior Under 28 victory.

The Azores Airlines Rallye once again showed why it is such a formidable opening round of the FIA European Rally Championship, but as others hit trouble, Russian Performance Motorsport’s Alexey Lukyanuk held steady out front.