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ERC Newsletter #14/14
Posted by: newsla on Apr 03, 2014 - 06:16 PM
WRC Rally News 2010
ERC Newsletter #14/14

The FIA European Rally Championship’s ‘Serious Competition Ahead’ strapline couldn’t be more accurate with Craig Breen becoming the third different winner in as many events with his first-place finish on the Acropolis Rally in Greece last weekend.


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Irishman Breen, whose triumph was his first in the ERC and the first for the all-new Peugeot 208T16, follows in the footsteps of Robert Kubica and Esapekka Lappi, who claimed victory on rounds one and two in their Ford Fiesta RRC and ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 cars respectively.

There have also been numerous stage winners in this year’s ERC with 12 different drivers setting fastest times on the three rallies run so far, while the ERC Production Car Cup and ERC 2WD Championship have also thrown up multiple event winners.

Next on the ERC schedule is the Circuit of Ireland Rally in Belfast from 17-19 April where there will be more serious competition ahead.

Stephen Wright has become the 19th driver to register for the new-for-2014 FIA ERC Junior Championship to further underline the popularity of this exciting young-driver category for R2 cars.

Wright, 24, will make his ERC Junior debut on the Circuit of Ireland Rally, driving a Peugeot 208 R2 alongside his co-driving sister Susanne. He will go up against two other new recruits on the asphalt event: Gino Bux from Belgium and Alex Parpottas from the United Kingdom.

Based in Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland, Wright, a civil engineer by trade, is the current Motorsport Ireland Young Rally Driver of the Year following his capture of the prestigious Billy Coleman Award in 2013. He also won the Irish Group N title in a Mitsubishi Lancer last year.

While Kevin Abbring’s start to life as a Peugeot Rally Academy driver in the FIA European Rally Championship might not have gone to plan, the Dutchman nevertheless impressed with two stage wins on the Acropolis Rally in Greece.

Abbring was fastest on stages two and four of the ERC counter and was out in front when a holed radiator forced him to retire his Peugeot 208T16, which he was using in competition for the first time on the back of limited pre-event testing.

“It was a pleasant surprise when I found myself in front with the 208T16 after SS2,” said Abbring, who was co-driven by Briton Sebastian Marshall. “It was by no means a foregone conclusion because there were so many new parameters, including driving the car on asphalt and a new pacenote system with a new co-driver. Okay, we didn’t reach the finish, but the car has got real potential and I am very confident for the future.”

Abbring will be back in action on the Circuit of Ireland Rally from 17-19 April.

ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland star Sepp Wiegand has revealed how his family are avid viewers of the FIA European Rally Championship on Eurosport.

The satellite channel broadcasts extensive coverage of the ERC, including some events live, and Wiegand’s family have been following his progress from their home in Zwönitz in Germany.

“My family watch the coverage on Eurosport and I also try to watch it when I have time,” said Wiegand. “Sometimes I find the clips on the ERC website and watch it there. It’s very good.”

Despite his failure to complete all the stages on last weekend’s Acropolis Rally after he damaged his Fabia Super 2000’s rear suspension during an incident on the fourth test, Wiegand said he could take plenty of positives away from the Greek event.

“On Saturday I was completely on track until my slip-up,” he said. “Finishing in the top five would certainly have been possible in spite of the tough competition. Playing ‘road sweeper’ for all the subsequent cars on the gravel on Sunday was definitely not ideal. But recording the third-fastest time on the final special stage was something of a conciliatory end for me.”

Two more rising talents underlined their potential in the FIA European Rally Championship courtesy of their class-winning performances on the Acropolis Rally in Greece.

Vitaliy Pushkar, a 22-year-old from Ukraine (pictured), claimed his maiden ERC Production Car Cup victory with Russian driver Evgeny Sukhovenko, 23, scoring a debut ERC 2WD Championship win following teenager Simone Tempestini’s retirement on the final stage.

While Pushkar has previously revealed plans to contest a number of ERC events in 2014, Sukhovenko is now targeting an appearance on next month’s SATA Rallye Açores when he will be a contender for category honours in his Renault Clio R3.

Ekaterina Stratieva has launched her own television channel to help promote her participation in the FIA European Rally Championship this season

The Bulgarian, who scored top ERC Ladies’ Trophy points on last weekend’s Acropolis Rally, launched Ekaterina Stratieva Channel TV in Greece alongside co-driver Carmen Poenaru.

Napoca Rally Academy driver Stratieva, who pilots a Subaru Impreza WRX STI in the ERC, welcomes fans to the project in footage filmed in Greece with Poenaru alongside. The pair are then shown tackling the shakedown stage near Loutraki. Click here to view the films.

Jan Kopecký, who won the 2013 FIA European Rally Championship for ŠKODA Motorsport, was an interested visitor to the Acropolis Rally last week. He spoke to Fiaerc.com.

You’ve been keeping a close eye on the ERC season. What are your thoughts?
“It’s been interesting to follow. Of course it would be better for me to sit in one of these nice cars, but we again see some nice competition and I believe it will be even stronger during this year.”

What do you think of ŠKODA’s current ERC drivers Esapekka Lappi and Sepp Wiegand?
“Of course I’m pleased. EP [Esapekka] is very fast and Sepp is still learning, still improving. Tarmac is still quite difficult for them because of their experience but they can be very quick and also on gravel.”

And is there a chance that you might be tempted to compete in the ERC this year?
“Of course I would like to do Barum Czech Rally Zlín because it’s the biggest rally in Czech Republic, and to see all the fans and ŠKODA Motorsport competing, I would be really happy. The plans for us this year are quite fixed with the APRC (Asia-Pacific Rally Championship), although I hope there are some extra bonuses coming from our team.”

PaddockTalk Perspective

Also in WRC Rally News 2010:

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