ERC news in brief - 12th of February

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By Olivier Ferret

12 February 2013 - 18:35
ERC news in brief - 12th of February

Interest booms in ERC 2WD Championship

The FIA ERC 2WD Championship is attracting significant interest with several crews committed to major assaults on the exciting two-wheel-drive division this season.

Kornél Lukács, a 21-year-old from Hungary, plans to contest eight European championship events in a Citroën C2 R2 for the LHG Rallye Team, while Aljoša Novak is targeting a six-round schedule in a ŠKODA Fabia R2.

Other drivers aiming for regular appearances in 2013 include Zoltán Bessenyey, Stéphane Lefebvre, Hermann Neubauer, Raffael Sulzinger and Rok Turk.

Renault driver Hannes Danzinger, from Austria, currently heads the standings from the Finn Risto Immonen, who competes in a Citroën, and ŠKODA-driving Italian Elwis Chentre. Danzinger plans to resume his title challenge on SATA Rallye Açores in April.

Fourteen stages for Rally Islas Canarias

It will be action all the way when the FIA European Rally Championship resumes on Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés from 21-23 March.

Organisers of the asphalt classic have devised a route consisting of 14 tests over a competitive distance of 246.34 kilometres.

Following the ceremonial start in Las Palmas at 20:30hrs local time on Thursday 21 March, the action begins with the 13.57-kilometre Moya stage at 07:48hrs on Friday 22 March and finishes with the 16.23-kilometre Vallesco stage, which goes live at 16:12hrs on Saturday 23 March.

In total there will be eight stages on leg one and six stages on leg two with the longest, Agüimes, measuring 25.82 kilometres.

The special stages are a mixture of narrow and fast undulating sections. With an abrasive surface, grip levels are high but tyre wear can be at a premium.

Entries are now open and more information can be found in the Calendar section of www.fiaerc.com or by going to www.rallyislascanarias.com.

A MINI success in Latvia

Raimonds Kisiels had plenty of reason to celebrate at the finish of Rally Liepāja-Ventspils last Sunday.

Not only did he score FIA European Rally Championship points for the first time, he was also the highest-placed Latvian driver to cross the finishing ramp in Ventspils following a late charge to fifth overall.

His achievement was even more impressive when it emerged that he only managed a 40-kilometre test in his Adapta Motorsport-run MINI John Cooper Works RRC prior to the start in Liepāja the previous Friday.

Kisiels’ fifth-place finish follows on from the fourth position Václav Pech scored on the International Jännerrallye last month.

Official: Ketomaa is the ERC’s fastest driver so far

Jari Ketomaa not only won Rally Liepāja-Ventspils last week, he also tops the list of stages won in the 2013 FIA European Rally Championship.

Ketomaa was fastest on eight occasions on the snow rally in Latvia in his Ford Fiesta RRC, one stage win more than Jan Kopecký managed when he triumphed on the ERC season-opening International Jännerrallye in Austria at the start of January aboard a ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000.

Breen targets Canarias ERC outing

Round three of the FIA European Rally Championship, Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés, gets underway in 40 days from now and Craig Breen has revealed that he’s doing all he can to be at the start.

The Tarmac showcase isn’t part of Breen’s planned eight-event ERC campaign with Peugeot Rally Academy-Saintéloc but following his strong start to his season on Rally Liepāja-Ventspils in Latvia last week, Breen is anxious to maintain the momentum by heading to Gran Canaria to drive his 207 Super 2000.

“It would be nice to do it and we will work hard to put something together and go to the Canaries, that’s the next one on the cards,” said Breen. “I’d like to be there and we’ll see if we can make it work. We started the season with a good points haul from the first round, an unfamiliar rally and probably a surface that doesn’t suit me like the Tarmac does.”

Ketomaa credits ERC outing for Sweden confidence

Jari Ketomaa says his participation on the FIA European Rally Championship-counting Rally Liepāja-Ventspils last week has given him all the confidence he needs for Rally Sweden.

The world championship event is currently underway with Ketomaa 11th overall after three stages following a powersteering issue on the second test in the same Ford Fiesta he used in Latvia last weekend, albeit upgraded to World Rally Car specification.

“It was perfect to be in Latvia because I had such a long break after Rally Finland to be in a proper car,” said Ketomaa. “With Kaj [Lindström] in the car he was able to say some things I haven’t thought before and I managed to get a very good rhythm. Sweden is a completely different story and I just want to do each stage as well as I can and continue the same things what we were doing in Latvia. But I have to say this victory is good for the self confidence.”

McRae award winner wants more ERC action

Rally Liepāja-Ventspils sensation Alexey Lukyanuk says he wants to contest more rounds of the FIA European Rally Championship but added that he’s waiting for the phone to ring with an offer.

The rapid Russian, who scooped the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy after fighting for third overall in his standard-specification Mitsubishi Lancer only to retire in the closing stages, said he hoped the Latvian event won’t be his last in this year’s ERC.

“I hope to do more in European championship but no M-Sport or Peugeot are calling me, I do not understand! It’s a joke of course but we have to find some funds to do some extension to our programme in Latvia and Estonia. Hopefully the performance here will help with our budget.”

Lukyanuk was in a battle with François Delecour for third place when a brush with a snow bank damaged his car’s oil cooler and forced his exit on the penultimate stage.

Rally Class to support ERC in 2013

The Subaru Impreza’s illustrious participation in rallying will continue this year with the news that the Rally Class concept will join the FIA European Rally Championship in 2013.

Rally Class is designed as an affordable one-make series, using identical Class 3-specification Subaru Imprezas. For 240,000 Euros, competitors will be able to ‘arrive and drive’ on six ERC events this year, with all costs included.

At the end of the season, the Rally Class winner will be rewarded with three prize drives in an R4-specification Impreza in the 2014 ERC. The second-placed finisher will receive one prize drive in next year’s series. Rally Class will support the ERC rounds in Açores, Belgium (Ypres), San Marino, Czech Republic (Zlín), Italy (Sanremo) and Switzerland (Valais).

Belgian team Symtech Racing will prepare and maintain the identical cars and plans to host the competitors and their cars in a dedicated ‘village’ area within the service park on each event.

Symtech’s Dirk Van der Sluys commented: “The series provides the perfect stepping stone for drivers who wish to progress in their rally career with the full support and back-up of a highly experienced team.”

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