Since the last FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting on 28 September when it was confirmed as the promoter of the FIA European Rally Championship under a 10-year agreement, Eurosport Events has met organisers of rallies on the existing ERC and Intercontinental Rally Challenge schedules to submit to the FIA Rally Commission on 31 October its first new-look ERC 2013 draft calendar.
With 21 rallies aiming for the 13 available slots, it has proved a delicate exercise, particularly given the high level of demand from very well organised and established events.
Eurosport Events set out to deliver a calendar without any clashes of dates with the FIA World Rally Championship and featuring a combination of asphalt and gravel rallies, plus rallies taking place in winter and snow conditions to ensure the ERC offers young drivers a similar challenge to the WRC.
The calendar for the 61st ERC season also had to meet additional criteria including geographical location, heritage, level of public support, national media and competitor interest, plus the sporting spectacle for drivers and fans attending the events and watching on television.
François Ribeiro, Motorsport Development Director, Eurosport Events, who worked in close partnership with ERC Manager, and former international rally driver, Jean-Pierre Nicolas to prepare the schedule, said: “One month after signing the agreement with the FIA to build a very strong European Rally Championship, we have been very encouraged by the level of interest from teams and drivers. Having so much demand from events is great but consequently means we won’t be able to fit them all in the schedule. All the teams we have met called for a calendar that would be logistically affordable given the tough economic conditions in Europe right now.”
Ribeiro continued: “Two gravel events in July remain open as we just did not have enough time to finalise discussions with governments in Bulgaria, Romania, San Marino and Turkey which are all good candidates. We are confident the ERC calendar will be very appealing and balanced. It won’t be long before we can submit the final draft calendar for FIA WMSC approval and ratification.
“In parallel, Eurosport Events is working hard developing a new ERC brand identity and website. We expect the level of TV exposure to be even higher than the outstanding coverage delivered for the IRC. We will keep pushing our pioneering live broadcasts. Finally, we are very happy with the outcome of the FIA Rally Commission meeting in Paris last week where several ERC matters relating to the team championship, tyre regulations, Production Cars and 2WD categories were discussed.”
Provisional 2013 FIA European Rally Championship calendar:
01: Jännerrallye (Austria) / Asphalt snow / 3-5 January 2013
02: Rally Liepāja-Ventspils (Latvia) / Gravel snow / 1-3 February 2013
03: Circuit of Ireland Rally (United Kingdom) / Asphalt / 28-30 March 2013
04: SATA Rallye Açores (Portugal) / Gravel / 25-27 April 2013
05: Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse (France) / Asphalt / 16-18 May 2013
06: Croatia Rally* / Asphalt / 6-8 June 2013
07: GEKO Ypres Rally (Belgium) / Asphalt / 27-29 June 2013
08: Event TBA** / Gravel / 11-13 July 2013
09: Event TBA** / Gravel / 25-27 July 2013
10: Barum Czech Rally Zlín / Asphalt / 30 August-1 September 2013
11: Rally Poland / Gravel / 27-29 September 2013
12: Rallye Sanremo (Italy)*** / Asphalt / 10-12 October 2013
13: Rallye International du Valais (Switzerland) / Asphalt / 7-9 November 2013