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Erc Auto24 Rally Estonia: The Countdown Begins
Posted by: newsla on Jun 27, 2014 - 06:14 AM
WRC Rally News 2010
Erc Auto24 Rally Estonia: The Countdown Begins


Following last week’s thrilling 50th anniversary Geko Ypres Rally, auto24 Rally Estonia is officially the next round of the FIA European Rally Championship and already the countdown has begun. Here are five reasons why it’s going to be another highlight of the 2014 ERC calendar when it takes place from 17-19 July.

 

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1: Spectacular stages to test the best
 ERC Sporting Manager and former world championship event-winning driver Jean-Pierre Nicolas has sampled the route and says the high-speed gravel stages are among the best in the world: "I have never seen such beautiful stages in my life."

2: Quality surface in store
 While some gravel stages can be rough, the stage surface in Estonia is super-smooth, meaning puncture risk and car damage will be minimised. "The surface is fantastic, no stones, just a little covering of sand," says Nicolas.

3: Great service (park)
 The permanent service park is located at the Tehvandi Sport Center in Otepää. "It’s a big place for sport, very beautiful," says Nicolas. "There’s a big ski jump there and it will very good for the teams and the fans."

4: Talented drivers in action
 Some of the best drivers from Estonia and the Baltic and Nordic regions will be up against leading runners from the ERC. Nicolas: "There will be a lot of very good drivers taking part, including Ott Tänak, the best driver in Estonia."

5: A warm welcome guaranteed
 Everyone attending auto24 Rally Estonia will enjoy a warm Estonian welcome when round seven of the ERC takes place next month. To find out more about the event click here. For more on Estonia itself, WHEN IT WAS A ROOM WITH A VIEW FOR THIERRY NEUVILLE IN YPRES Hyundai Shell World Rally Team star Thierry Neuville was treated to a spectacular view of Ypres during a promotional visit to his home round of the FIA European Rally Championship last week.

Neuville was a guest of ERC promoter Eurosport Events and provided expert commentary for Eurosport’s coverage of the all-gravel spectacular.

His filming duties included visits to special stages and this shoot (pictured) at the top of the Belfont Tower, which overlooks the historic market town in western Belgium.

During his visit, Neuville also took part in a question and answer session with drivers and co-drivers from the FIA ERC Junior Championship. He travelled directly from Ypres, where he finished on the podium in 2010, to Poland on Sunday morning to prepare for the country’s round of the world championship this week.

ERC star Abbring on track in the WTCC ERC STAR ABBRING ON TRACK IN THE WTCC Fresh from his heroics on the Geko Ypres Rally, round six of the FIA European Rally Championship, Kevin Abbring headed from west to east Belgium and to Spa-Francorchamps where he was a guest of Eurosport Events at the WTCC Race of Belgium on 22 June.

Peugeot Rally Academy driver Abbring, who was leading in Ypres until a mechanical failure put him out, visited the grid before the start of the FIA World Touring Car Championship event. And this is Abbring with nine-time world champion co-driver Daniel Elena, who was at Spa to support his former driver Sébastien Loeb, now a star of the WTCC with Citroën Racing.

Eurosport Events is the promoter of the WTCC and ERC under separate agreements with the FIA, motorsport’s world governing body.

SIMPSON SIGNS UP FOR MORE ERC ACTION

Neil Simpson is such a big fan of the FIA European Rally Championship that he’s coming back for more - three more - events that is.

The Briton has run in the top 10 on his two ERC appearances so far in 2014 at the wheel of the ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 driven last season by Esapekka Lappi and Freddy Loix.

While Simpson always had plans to add at least one more ERC event to his schedule, he has now confirmed that he will tackle Barum Czech Rally Zlín, Rallye International du Valais and Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse in the Czech machine. "We’ve had a great run of results and we are really enjoying the European Rally Championship events, so we’ve decided to change our plans for the remainder of the season and plan to do Barum, Valais and hopefully Corsica," said Simpson, a ŠKODA dealership proprietor from the UK.

ERC JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP GETS PRIDE OF PLACE AT FIA SPORT CONFERENCE The Opel ADAM R2 German star Marijan Griebel is using to contest the inaugural FIA ERC Junior Championship took centre stage during the FIA Sport Conference in Munich from 24-26 June.

Run by the ADAC OPEL Rallye Junior Team, the car’s presence at the event was significant in more ways than one as it was hosted at ADAC’s headquarters in the Bavarian city.

Griebel’s Opel ADAM R2 was in action on last weekend’s Geko Ypres Rally with the young German driver running in the top three for much of the event before he unfortunately retired on the final stage of the Tarmac showcase. Visit Fiaerc.com soon to find out what happened.

SERVICE WITH A SMILE IN THE ERC

Four stars from the FIA European Rally Championship swapped their cars for the kitchen prior to the start of the Geko Ypres Rally last week. Guillaume Dilley, Petter Kristiansen, Esapekka Lappi and Ekaterina Stratieva took part in a photocall to serve traditional Belgian frites avec mayonnaise in the famous Grote Markt in Ypres.

Several photographers and TV crews were in attendance and some journalists even got to sample the drivers’ wares. In the rally itself, Dilley, Kristiansen and Lappi were all out of luck on the 50th anniversary of the demanding asphalt conetest although Stratieva did reach the finish in 43rd overall and second in the ERC Ladies’ Trophy.

INSPIRATIONAL COSTERMANS COMPLETES ERC YPRES SHAKEDOWN

When an accident at work 10 years ago left him without sight in both eyes, Luc Costermans vowed to one day get back behind the wheel.

After setting the world land speed record for a blind driver, Costermans achieved another notable milestone when he drove through the 4.79-kilometre shakedown stage for the Geko Ypres Rally, round six of the FIA European Rally Championship, last week.

He told the Inside ERC programme just how it was done in the ŠKODA Yeti he was using for the exercise. "We wanted to prove that a blind person, while being well guided, is able to show extraordinary agility and handling," he said. "We take the steering wheel that looks like a watch. If my co-driver Davide tells me "right 5", I turn the wheel to 1 hour, "right 10" to 2 hours, "right 25" to 3 hours, "left 5" to 11 hours, "left 10" to 10 hours, "left 25" to 9 hours... Besides that, we have a system for braking, for accelerating and also for the surroundings, to know if I can cut the corners. All bits of information to drive in an efficient and fast way."

Costermans’ world land speed record was broken in 2009 but naturally he’s keen to get it back: "I want to beat that record once again," he said.

SERIOUS COMPETITION IN ERC JUNIOR

The serious competition ahead in the FIA European Rally Championship was underlined when Stéphane Lefebvre claimed ERC Junior glory on the Geko Ypres Rally tied on time with Andrea Crugnola following almost 300 kilometres of stage action.

Lefebvre, who led twice during the rally but on each occasion fell back because of problems, took the victory due to the fact he was fastest in class on the opening stage. However, it could have been a different story when the bonnet of his Peugeot 208 R2 flew open at the first corner and he drove through the closing 27.56-kilometre stage relying on co-driver Thomas Dubois’ pacenotes after his vision was obscured.

"It’s amazing and I’m very happy to win this event," said the Peugeot Rally Academy driver. "Before the start of the final stage I don’t close the front and after 200 metres the [bonnet] crashed into the windscreen. I push very hard but I lose a lot of time so to win is really fantastic. I don’t expect that and it’s very difficult to drive in those conditions, maybe crazy."

Q&A: FREDDY LOIX

The Ypres Rally legend took a ninth victory on the Geko-backed event when the FIA European Rally Championship came to his native Belgium last week. This is what he had to say.

How good does it feel to be a nine-time winner in Ypres? "Now I’m still feeling okay but it might be different in two hours time. I have to say I’m very happy with my ninth victory but, to be honest, it was much more difficult than the last three years. I have to fight for the tenths of seconds, even behind me it was very close racing. Already from the shakedown on I do the fourth time on shakedown, which is not my style because I am normally first or second but now I’m fourth so it was a little bit different. But I was enjoying the fight with Kevin and for me it was pity he wasn’t any more there in the afternoon."

You spoke about Kevin Abbring a few times on ERC Rally Radio. What do you think of his performance? "To be honest I was not impressed because I know Kevin is a very fast driver. I knew he was one of the quickest one and also the combination of Kevin and the Peugeot and the top speed everything together makes the car in some places quick. But on the other side I knew that my ŠKODA over 300 kilometres was the strongest one."

What's next for you Freddy - any chance of a return to the ERC this season? "Everybody knows I am quite busy developing the R5, the new model of ŠKODA and also working for Michelin and at the moment I am driving a lot and that’s maybe one of the reasons why I still have a good speed. For me the most important is to try and win the Belgian championship. I am leading at the moment but I still have to do a few races. I want to be at the end of the season first. At the moment I don’t know exactly if there will be more ERC events. I am quite busy with all the testing so it’s quite difficult for me to know exactly what I am going to do in two or three weeks. If I have some time and good friends like Luca Rossetti said then maybe yes."

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