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2017 European Rally Championship (ERC)

Posted: November 2, 2017 11:02 AM - 3700 Hits

DRIVE TO ORDER: GRIEBEL GOES FOR TAILOR-MADE PRIZE PACKAGE AFTER LANDING ERC JUNIOR UNDER 28 TITLE

Posted: November 2, 2017 11:02 AM

*German converts one-off World Rally Car ride into full ERC bid with Eurosport Events’ support
*Climb to the top continues but with more opportunities to prove talent
*Ace Griebel: “It makes sense to do a full R5 programme in 2018”

Marijan Griebel will continue to climb the international rallying pyramid in 2018 following his capture of the FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship crown.

Having claimed back-to-back ERC Junior awards in R2 and R5 machinery, Griebel was handed a one-off drive in a World Rally Car on a European round of the world championship in 2018 as his ERC Junior U28 title prize. However, following discussions with ERC promoter Eurosport Events, Griebel will transfer the company’s support to a full season at the wheel of an R5 car.

While his precise programme is still being finalised, discussions are ongoing for the 28-year-old German to tackle an all-out FIA European Rally Championship assault.

“As good as the prize of a one-off drive in a World Rally Car is, as I’m not a rich guy it makes more sense for me to do a full programme in an R5 car in 2018,” Griebel explained. “I’ve only done six full rallies in an R5 car and I need to learn and improve. Rather than risking everything by driving a WRC car for one event with no experience and no chance against the pros and the manufacturer teams, my aim is to do a full programme in an R5 car. There’s still some budget missing to do exactly what I want but I’m working with my partners and with Eurosport Events to put everything together. Certainly, as an FIA champion there are more possibilities and more motivation to do something really good.”

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Coordinator, said:
“We have talked at length to Marijan and while the World Rally Car option remains on the table for him, he needs to do what’s right for him as he progresses up the rallying ladder. This was his decision and he has our full support. We’re now discussing exactly what his 2018 campaign will entail but we have no doubt Marijan will continue to build on the experience he’s accumulated from competing in the ERC Junior categories and further prove his talent.”

Griebel, who drove a Pirelli-shod Baumschlager Rallye & Racing ŠKODA Fabia R5 to European success in 2017, received his FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship trophy at a ceremony in Liep?ja, Latvia earlier this month.

And looking back on his hugely successful stint in ERC Junior, he said:
“The ERC is a great series to develop you as a driver. It has a lot of really good rallies with some different characteristics but also the competition is really good. It’s the best and most affordable way to start an international career.”

ERC TV AUDIENCES INCREASE BY 45%

Posted: September 7, 2017 6:42 AM

The revamped FIA European Rally Championship has not only experienced a big upturn in interest from drivers and teams in 2017, it is also experiencing a big increase in television audiences.

Analysis undertaken by Nielsen Sports on behalf of ERC promoter Eurosport Events following the first four rounds of the 2017 season, has revealed the following:

*45% (13.4 million) cumulative audience increase compared to 2016 (43,585,000 up from 30,156,000)
*Broadcast hours up from 234:16 in 2016 to 241:14
*Coverage on 41 channels in 88 markets
*Rally Islas Canarias achieves top round audience status with 15.341 million viewers

Other highlights include:

*Audience increases in Belgium, Cyprus, Portugal and Spain, with the latter enjoying a cumulative audience rise of 9.6 million following new broadcast agreements
*Expansion into new markets including Australia (Eurosport), India (Neo Sports) and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region through OSN Sports
*Overhauled ERC All Access programme experiences a cumulative audience increase from 700,000 in 2016 to 1,200,000 in 2017

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said:
“The huge cumulative audience increase is fantastic news for the ERC and for everybody who is playing a part in its on-going success. In an increasingly digital era, we are delighted that television not only remains and extremely important medium, it’s also an expanding one given the level of interest. In addition to the fresh and dynamic social media strategy introduced at the start of the year, the 45 per cent TV audience increase recognises all the effort made to upgrade the TV content of the ERC programming and serves as another boost in terms of media exposure, which remains one of the strongest assets of this championship promoted by Eurosport Events.”

The race for ERC glory heads to Italy next for Rally di Roma Capitale from 15-17 September. A new addition to the European championship for 2017, the event features all-asphalt stages in and around the Italian city.

BOUFFIER IS BACK FOR ERC TITLE PUSH

Posted: April 25, 2017 7:41 AM

Bryan Bouffier has become the latest title-winning driver to sign up for a season-long FIA European Rally Championship campaign.

Following on from French champion Sylvain Michel’s decision earlier this week to prove his talent in the ERC, Bouffier is targeting a six-event programme in a Gemini Clinic Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5, starting with next month’s Rally Islas Canarias (4-6 May).

The three-time ERC event winner, who has three Polish titles and one French title to his name and is a former winner of Rallye Monte-Carlo and Tour de Corse, placed fourth in last season’s European championship having finished second in 2013. He’s highly motivated to try to top the order in 2017.

“It’s always good to fight for a championship,” said the 38-year-old Frenchman. “Last year the competition level was not so fantastic but this year it’s huge, the media coverage is always strong and the championship is affordable. We have a great opportunity and hopefully I can do a good job together with my team to be in a good position in the championship. I will push myself to be faster because the huge challenge means the motivation is there.”

Bouffier’s exact programme following Rally Islas Canarias has yet to be announced but the events being considered are June’s gravel-based Cyprus Rally, the all-Tarmac Rally Rzeszow and Barum Czech Rally Zlín in August, Rally di Roma Capitale, which uses all-asphalt Italian stages in September, and the season-closing Rally Liep?ja on fast Latvian gravel roads in October.

“I did Rally Islas Canarias once in 2011 and although my result was not fantastic I remember it was a really amazing rally with so many spectators,” said Bouffier. “Even though Gran Canaria is not a big island, there were a lot of people on the stages and the weather was also nice. For the gravel rallies, it’s true I have more experience on Tarmac but I still feel I can do good results on gravel although I will need some practice because the last time was in 2014.”

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said:
“It’s great news that a driver of Bryan’s ability and professionalism has made this commitment to the ERC along with the Gemini Clinic Rally Team. Like Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Alexey Lukyanuk, Bryan is a potential champion but also a reference for the young talents in the ERC Junior Under 28 Championship to aim for.”

LUKYANUK RETURNS TO FIGHT FOR ERC GLORY

Posted: March 15, 2017 8:40 AM

- European title the focus for Russian Rocket
- Fiesta driver will be a benchmark for ERC Junior U28 stars
- Lukyanuk combines driving with coaching young talent Remennik

Alexey Lukyanuk has vowed to "fight" to become the first Russian to win the FIA European Rally Championship after deciding to focus on the ERC instead of a WRC2 campaign.

Lukyanuk had planned to follow a long line of ERC graduates by stepping up to the world championship this season. But changes to his programme for 2017 means he will contest the Azores Airlines Rallye later this month ahead of a full assault on the oldest international rally series.

"We will start again in the ERC and fight for victory," said Lukyanuk. "At the beginning of the year we tried the world championship but those plans were based on sponsor support expectations. Regretfully they have not been realised but at least we made it to the start of one WRC2 event and now we have made the decision to participate in the ERC where the costs are less. The fight for the title should be serious according to the list of competitors that plan to participate and we are preparing for the first event, doing pacenote training, studying onboards and looking forward to the new season to start."

Lukyanuk, who will continue his partnership with co-driver Alexey Arnautov, will once again drive a Ford Fiesta R5 for H-Racing, albeit with a new colour scheme. "For the first two events we will start in unusual colors - we've got support from Rosgosstrakh (RGS), but we continue our long-term co-operation with Boris Zimin and his support helps us to move further," said the 36-year-old, runner-up to Kajetan Kajetanowicz in last year's ERC.

ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley said: "Alexey is widely known as one of the fastest and most spectacular rally drivers and it's fantastic he's back in the ERC. While a key function of the ERC is to help develop future world championship drivers, having Alexey in the ERC will give the young drivers competing in the new ERC Junior Under 28 Championship a big benchmark to aim for. We're expecting some exciting battles during the season."

As well as driving in the ERC, Lukyanuk will coach young Russian Sergey Remennik, who is embarking on an ERC2 campaign with co-driver Mark Rozin. More details on Remennik's programme will be announced soon.

JOSH MOFFETT/JAMES FULTON ANNOUNCE ERC JUNIOR U28 PRIZE PUSH

Posted: March 13, 2017 5:09 AM

Josh Moffett has chosen the FIA ERC Junior Under 28 Championship to help him achieve his aim of competing in the World Rally Championship in the future.

The new-for-2017 category offers a one-off drive on a European round of the global series in 2018 to its eventual champion, and Moffett, from Monaghan, is ready to take on a host of fellow young and talented rally drivers in his quest for glory alongside co-driver and fellow Irishman James Fulton.

Moffett's ERC adventure has been made possible, in part, through his capture of the prestigious Billy Coleman Award - a major incentive for young Irish rally stars - and the cash prize of ?50,000 that goes to the recipient. He plans to contest a minimum of four events, starting with the all-gravel Azores Airlines Rallye from 30 March-1 April.

"I'm delighted to get this opportunity to compete in the ERC and chase this very important prize drive," said 24-year-old Moffett, who has five ERC starts to his name and is a multiple champion in his homeland. "I have previous experience of some of the events but I'm expecting the competition to be even higher than before. The ERC is a high-profile international championship that's accessible financially and comes with lots of media coverage and a great reward, so I can't wait to get started. Now I have to put everything into practice that I have learned competing in Ireland and do my best to take my career to the next level."

Fulton added: "Although I've only been working with Josh for a short time, he's impressed me with his progression and ability behind the wheel and has clearly got talent. It's going to be a tough but enjoyable season and we're ready for the challenge."

ERC Junior U28 is for drivers born on or after 1 January 1989 competing in R5 cars. Crews count their best four scores from a possible six starting with the Azores Airlines Rallye and finishing on the Latvia-based Rally Liepaja in October.

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: "We are very pleased to welcome Josh and James to the ERC. They have shown their ability on what are very competitive national events in Ireland and Josh impressed on the ERC events he has tackled in the past. It's great he has chosen ERC Junior U28 to prove his talent on an international stage."

Moffett and Fulton will begin their ERC campaign in the Azores and are committed to the next three ERC Junior U28 rounds in Gran Canaria, Poland and Czech Republic.

TOTAL TEAMWORK: REVAMPED ERC TEAMS' CHAMPIONSHIP IS GO!

Posted: March 10, 2017 7:27 AM

Teamwork will come to the fore in the 2017 FIA European Rally Championship when the battle for the all-new ERC title for teams kicks off on the Azores Airlines Rallye later this month.

Rather than separate titles in ERC1, ERC2 and ERC3 as was the case previously, for the first time in ERC history there will now be one trophy up for grabs for all competing teams.

Each outfit will 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 will count, with teams tallying their best six scores from a possible eight.

And with points distributed according to the four- and two-wheel-drive 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.

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said:
"Never before in international rallying have teams in different categories fought it out for the same trophy so history will be made this season and the European Rally Championship for Teams is something ERC promoter Eurosport Events is really proud of. We hope that by streamlining the structure the result will be more interest and even bigger competition."

Each squad will nominate a captain from its driver line-up to act as a figurehead, reveal the drivers chasing points on the team's behalf on each rally, accept trophies at prize-giving ceremonies and, in some cases, potentially instruct his or her fellow drivers on any strategy calls made by team management. "Every good team needs a leader so the team captain will play an important role and create another story-telling opportunity," said Ley. The team captains will be announced ahead of each event and will also be required to attend press conferences and other media activities arranged during the course of the season.

A number of multi-car teams have already revealed their plans for the upcoming ERC season. They include ACCR Czech Team, Opel Rallye Junior Team, Peugeot Rally Academy and Sports Racing Technologies. Single-car entrants can join forces to form teams. However, only ERC-registered drivers can be included in participating team line-ups. As well as the prestige of winning an FIA title, the winning team will receive a three-minute bespoke highlights video for non-broadcast use.

Squads registered for the FIA European Rally Championship for Teams include:

    ACCR Czech Team
    Motorsport Italia
    Neiksans Rally Sport
    Opel Rallye Junior Team
    Peugeot Rally Academy
    Play/Auto Acoreana Racing
    Rallytechnology
    Sports Racing Technologies
    Tiger Energy Drink Rally Team

ERC JUNIOR REMAINS OPEL MOTORSPORT'S NUMBER ONE CHOICE FOR DEVELOPING YOUNG RALLY TALENTS

Posted: February 16, 2017 2:43 PM

The importance of the role performed by the FIA ERC Junior Championship in developing future champions has been underlined by confirmation that Opel Motorsport will contest the series for a fourth season running in 2017, entering a three-car line-up of rallying talents in the new ERC Junior Under 27 division for drivers in R2 cars on Pirelli tyres.

Jari Huttunen, Chris Ingram and Tamara Molinaro will contest the six-round young driver training category in ADAM R2s as the factory Opel squad aims for a third consecutive ERC Junior title following in the wheel tracks of Emil Bergkvist (2015) and Marijan Griebel (2016).

Huttunen's drive is his prize for winning the Germany-based ADAC Opel Rallye Cup in 2016, the 22-year-old Finn taking six victories from seven starts. A protege of double world champion Marcus Gronholm, Huttunen will compete under the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team banner alongside co-driver and fellow Finn Antti Linnaketo, 37.

After narrowly losing out to Griebel in the chase for last season's ERC Junior crown, British prospect Ingram is back for a fourth season in the championship when he will be a leading contender to claim the top prize - a fund of 100,000 Euros to use for an assault on the ERC Junior U28 Championship for R5 cars in 2018. The 22-year-old claimed the FIA ERC3 title in 2016 and will extend his partnership with British co-driver Elliott Edmondson, also 22.

For Italian Molinaro, confirmation of the 19-year-old Italian's ERC Junior U27 campaign represents another important step following a training season at the wheel of an ADAM R2 last year. Her programme is a collaboration between Opel, Pirelli and Red Bull and will offer another opportunity for the Italian to build her competition experience. Austrian Ursula Mayrhofer, 32, will co-drive.

"After two consecutive ERC Junior Championship titles, the Opel Rallye Junior Team is certainly under pressure as the favourite," said Opel Motorsport Director Jorg Schrott. "But we are more than happy to take on this challenge and our new team has a great mix of different driving backgrounds and different characters. In spite of his youth, Chris already has a lot of international experience, Jari proved his enormous talent in the ADAC Opel Rallye Cup, and Tamara is at the beginning of her rally career. It will be exciting to see what the three make of their different starting points."

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, welcomed Opel's continued participation in ERC Junior. He said: "The involvement of a factory team in ERC Junior not only provides a benchmark for other youngsters to aim at, it's also helping promising drivers to showcase their talents at an international level."

The ERC Junior U27 Championship takes place over six rounds with the gravel-based Azores Airlines Rallye opening the season from 30 March-1 April. Rally Islas Canarias (4-6 May) is the first of four all-asphalt events and is followed by Rally Rzeszow (Poland, 3-5 August), Barum Czech Rally Zl?n (25-27 August) and Rally di Roma Capitale (Italy, 15-17 September). The all-gravel Rally Liepāja in Latvia concludes the season from 6-8 October.

TWO STEPS TO THE WRC: ERC JUNIOR OFFERS ULTIMATE CAREER PROGRESSION OPPORTUNITY

Posted: January 26, 2017 10:47 AM

Drivers can compete in a World Rally Car in the FIA World Rally Championship within two years by signing up for the ultimate career progression opportunity.

The hugely successful FIA ERC Junior Championship will be split into two separate divisions from 2017 based on driver age and car performance.

ERC Junior U27, which totals six events, is for drivers born on or after 1 January 1990 competing in R2 cars on Pirelli tyres. With the best four rounds counting, the winner will receive a career progression fund worth 100,000 euros to use in ERC Junior U28 in 2018.

ERC Junior U28 offers the next step on the rallying pyramid for drivers born on or after 1 January 1989. Again totalling six rounds with the best four scores counting, drivers use R5 cars with no restriction on tyre choice. The champion will get a drive on a European round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship as a P1 driver in a 2016-specification World Rally Car.

Both ERC Junior divisions benefit from substantial television coverage with at least three minutes per programme broadcast on Eurosport dedicated to the two young driver categories.

"It's clear there is a growing number of ERC Junior graduates and other young drivers looking to take the next step in rallying but without the financial means to run a full international campaign in an R5 car or lacking the experience required to achieve consistent success," said ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley.
"ERC Junior U28 will bridge this gap by providing a step up in performance for ERC Junior U27 graduates, albeit in a managed environment where they will come up against like-minded drivers with similar experience. And by providing a World Rally Championship prize drive to the ERC Junior U28 champion, we're recognising the ambition of young drivers to reach the sport's top level."

Despite entries only opening on 1 January, interest in ERC Junior U27 and U28 is high with several drivers having either announced their programmes or being in the process of doing so.

ERC promoter Eurosport Events launched the ERC Junior Championship for the 2014 season in partnership with motorsport's world governing body, the FIA, with 67 drivers taking part since then. Current factory Citro?n WRC driver Stephane Lefebvre won the inaugural title with Emil Bergkvist triumphant in season two and Marijan Griebel claiming the silverware in 2016.

The 2017 ERC Junior U27 and U28 championships will be contested over six events.

EIGHT ROUNDS FOR 2017 ERC AS JUNIOR UPGRADE IS APPROVED

Posted: December 1, 2016 9:01 AM

The 2017 FIA European Rally Championship will be contested over eight events from April to October, while an exciting revamp of the FIA ERC Junior Championship was also approved at a meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Vienna today.

Structured in response to feedback from drivers and teams who were keen to cap their number of competitive outings at between six and eight events, the ERC calendar features four rallies on asphalt and four on gravel for the perfect balance of surfaces.

Kicking off with the Azores Airlines Rally from 30 March-1 April, the season concludes on Rally Liepaja in Latvia from 6-8 October. In between there will be visits to Spain for Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Ingles, to Greece for the legendary Acropolis Rally, to Cyprus for the mixed-surface Cyprus Rally, to Poland for Rally Rzeszow, to Czech Republic for Barum Czech Rally Zlin and to Italy for Rally di Roma Capitale, an ERC newcomer for 2017. As a further cost-cutting measure, drivers will count their best six scores only.

New format for ERC Junior

ERC Junior will be split into two separate divisions ? ERC Junior Under 27 and ERC Junior Under 28 ? from 2017 based on driver age and experience. ERC Junior U27 is for drivers under the age of 27 at the start of 2017 competing in R2 cars on Pirelli tyres. With the best four rounds from six counting, the winner will receive a career progression fund worth 100,000 euros to use in ERC Junior U28 in 2018. ERC Junior U28 offers the next step on the rallying pyramid for drivers under the age of 28 ahead of 2017. Again totalling six rounds with the best four scores counting, drivers will use R5 cars. The champion will get a drive in a European round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship as a P2 driver in a 2016-specification World Rally Car.

ERC Teams' Championship restructured

The popular ERC Teams' Championship undergoes significant changes for 2017. Rather than separate titles in ERC1, ERC2 and ERC3, from next year there will be one ERC Teams' Championship with each outfit nominating a maximum of three cars, 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 drivers from a team count. And with points distributed according to the four- and two-wheel-drive classifications, a team could score a maximum of 50 points (25 points for 4WD, 25 points for 2WD) per event.

Q&A: Jean-Baptiste Ley, ERC Co-ordinator

The 2017 ERC will comprise eight events while previously 10 rounds have been included and there was an allowance for the same amount next season. Can you explain the reduction?
"We had options to run 10 events and keep in line with the 2016 season despite knowing it's not in accordance with the resources of our teams and drivers: in the last three years even the biggest teams like ?KODA Motorsport, Peugeot Rally Academy and LOTOS Rally Team did not participate in more than eight events per season. Taking this decision was difficult but in the end it was essential that we listened to our drivers and teams who feel eight rallies is enough in terms of available budgets."

The Ypres Rally was a mainstay of the ERC for a number of years but it's no longer on the calendar. Why?
"As Eurosport Events we had worked with the Ypres Rally organisers since 2006 during the IRC era, loyally supporting the event's progression while delivering large numbers of competitors and significant media exposure including television coverage on a global scale. Our previous agreement had expired and the Ypres Rally organisers decided their event has a future without a partnership with a major international FIA championship, nor significant levels of television coverage, all under terms revised to match their own circumstances."

Rally di Roma Capitale is new to the ERC for 2017. What does this event bring?
"We're very pleased to be joining forces with Motorsport Italia, which launched Rally di Roma Capitale three years ago and has managed its rise as a top Italian championship event. Clearly it means a return to Italy for the ERC for the first time since 2013 when Rallye Sanremo was part of the calendar, a major target we have been working hard to achieve during the last two years. It also brings the ERC to a world-famous city, thereby creating a number of promotional opportunities. We have always put our trust in newcomers, just like we did with Rally Liepaja four years ago. Raimond Strok?s and his team bring a fresh view to the championship and manage one of the best gravel events in the ERC."

How pleased are you with the final calendar?
"We're very pleased because an eight-event calendar is realistic when you consider the market and economic climate. We're also delighted to be continuing our long-term agreements with events that provide some of the best TV coverage on gravel and asphalt such as the rallies in Azores and Canaries. We also visit countries with a strong rallying heritage like Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal and Spain, reference rallies like Barum Czech Rally Zlin, former WRC events such as the Acropolis and Cyprus rallies and, to conclude, a model of organisation in the Baltics: Rally Liepaja in Latvia, home of a real rising talent in Ralfs Sirmacis. As before teams will continue to receive strong logistical support for the island rallies as we continue our efforts to keep a control on costs."

Major changes have been made to the ERC Junior Championship. What's your thinking?
"It's clear there is a growing number of ERC Junior graduates and other young drivers looking to take the next step in rallying but without the financial means to run a full international campaign in an R5 car or lacking the experience required to achieve consistent success. ERC Junior U28 will bridge this gap by providing a step up in performance for ERC Junior U27 graduates, albeit in a managed environment where they will come up against like-minded drivers with similar experience. And by providing a World Rally Championship prize drive to the ERC Junior U28 champion we're recognising the ambition of young drivers to reach the sport's top level."

2017 FIA European Rally Championship calendar below:

NEW STEP IN ERC JUNIOR FORMAT TARGETS CAREER PROGRESSION

Posted: November 21, 2016 8:35 AM

The FIA ERC Junior Championship is in line for an exciting format change from 2017, with a career progression opportunity and a prize package up for grabs.

Subject to final FIA World Motor Sport Council approval, ERC Junior will be split into two separate divisions from 2017 based on driver age and experience as follows:

    ERC Junior Under 27 (U27)
    ERC Junior Under 28 (U28)
ERC Junior U27, which totals six events, is for drivers under the age of 27 at the start of the 2017 season competing in R2 cars on Pirelli tyres. With the best four rounds counting, the winner will receive a career progression fund worth 100,000 euros to use in ERC Junior U28 in 2018.

ERC Junior U28 offers the next step on the rallying pyramid for drivers aged 28 and under ahead of the 2017 campaign. Again totalling six rounds with the best four scores counting, drivers use R5 cars. The champion will get a drive in a European round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship as a P2 driver in a 2016-specification World Rally Car.

ERC promoter Eurosport Events launched the ERC Junior Championship for the 2014 season in partnership with motorsport's world governing body, the FIA. Current factory Citroen WRC driver Stephane Lefebvre won the inaugural title with Emil Bergkvist triumphant in season two and Marijan Griebel claiming the silverware in 2016. Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, explained the evolution for 2017.

"It's clear there is a growing number of ERC Junior graduates and other young drivers looking to take the next step in rallying but without the financial means to run a full international campaign in an R5 car or lacking the experience required to achieve consistent success. ERC Junior U28 will bridge this gap by providing a step up in performance for ERC Junior U27 graduates, albeit in a managed environment where they will come up against like-minded drivers with similar experience. And by providing a World Rally Championship prize drive to the ERC Junior U28 champion we're recognising the ambition of young drivers to reach the sport's top level."

The ERC Junior Experience, which ran for the first time in 2016, will continue next year at three events to be announced. The training initiative is designed for young drivers looking to take the first step of their international career by providing essential skills and experience. ERC Junior Experience graduates will receive free entry for ERC Junior U27 in 2018.

ERC RETURNS TO ITALY IN NEW-LOOK CALENDAR

Posted: November 17, 2016 6:27 AM

Rally di Roma Capitale will join the FIA European Rally Championship in 2017, one of eight events so far included on the provisional schedule for next season, which remains subject to final approval.

Inclusion of the all-asphalt event, which features a stage that passes the world-famous Colosseum, marks the ERC's return to Italy for the first time since 2013 when Rallye Sanremo was part of the championship.

Rally di Roma Capitale joins the following events on the provisional ERC calendar for 2017: Acropolis Rally**, Azores Airlines Rallye, Barum Czech Rally Zlin, Cyprus Rally, Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Ingles, Rally Liepaja and Rally Rzeszow.

Eurosport Events, the ERC promoter, will consider adding a maximum of two more events to the calendar ahead of its submission to the FIA World Motor Sport Council for ratification when it meets in Vienna on 30 November. Drivers will count their best six scores.

The ERC Junior Championship will continue to take place over six rounds, including two on gravel, with five of the six events confirmed as follows: Azores Airlines Rallye, Barum Czech Rally Zlin, Rally di Roma Capitale, Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Ingles and Rally Liepaja. ERC Junior drivers will count their best four scores.

Jean-Baptiste Ley, the ERC Co-ordinator, said: "We're very pleased to be joining forces with Motorsport Italia, which launched Rally di Roma Capitale three years ago and has managed its rise as a top Italian championship event. We're also delighted to be continuing our long-term agreements with some of Europe's best rallies on asphalt and gravel. There will be a maximum of 10 rallies and we're considering adding at least one more event, in central Europe, to the current provisional schedule. Teams will continue to receive strong logistical support for the island rallies as we continue our efforts to keep a control on costs."

FIA European Rally Championship calendar 2017

Posted: November 17, 2016 6:24 AM

  1. Azores Rallye (J) - 30 Mar-1 Apr 17
  2. Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Ingles (J) - 4-6 May 17
  3. Acropolis Rally - 2-4 Jun 17
  4. Cyprus Rally - 16-18 Jun 17
  5. Rally Rzeszow (J) - 3-5 Aug 17
  6. Barum Czech Rally Zl?n (J) - 25-27 Aug 17
  7. Rally di Roma Capitale (J) - 15-17 Sep 17
  8. Rally Liepaja (J) - 6-8 Oct 17
J = ERC Junior Championship event

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