Goodbye IRC; Hello ERC

Article by Liga Stirna.

Just two weeks ago the rallying world waved good-bye to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC), and immediately plans for new European Rally Championship (ERC) were started. Organizers of the IRC, Eurosport Events, will be responsible for the revised and renewed ERC for next 10 years, and they promise a brand new approach to this Championship.

Compared to previous ERC, the new-look 2013 series might feature fewer rounds one the calendar, but it has more consistency and new additions to the rallying world to enjoy. For these 13 rallies, some “big name” events have been lost and some new countries have appeared on the list: we here in Baltics are especially proud of the inclusion of Rally Liepāja-Ventspils in 2013 ERC. Considering the high level of rally organization in Latvia, we can promise a great and safe event!

Before the final ERC calendar was finalised, a press conference was held in Riga where the inclusion of the Latvian Rally Liepāja-Ventspils in ERC as the season’s second round and first gravel/snow event was announced. In this press conference, the IRC Commercial Director Mr. Antonello Ledoletti spoke about the visions of revised ERC.

Q: How much of the IRC philosophy will you keep in ERC?
AL: “Basically we’ll keep all our philosophy and more. The same passion, with more and more passion. We’ll keep our experience in IRC, our business model to realize it in the fantastic European championship. We want to say that this won’t be a switch [from IRC to ERC], but this will be real takeover. We are sure that it will be good for teams, for drivers, for everybody, as in the end it will be a true European Rally Championship title. We will transfer all our experience from the IRC to the ERC.”

Q: Taking in account that there will be just 13 events in ERC, you will create fierce rivalry between rallies. How are you going to judge them, as Rally Liepāja – Ventspils never will be like Rally Monte Carlo, for example?
AL: “A lot of elements will be taken in consideration: local promoter, support from local authorities, support from sponsors, and government. And, last but not least, the beauty of the country. Don’t forget that rally is also about landscape: in TV that looks spectacular. For Latvia, of course, we have fingers crossed for snow, then this rally will be even more spectacular.”

Q: Will this new Championship be driver-dedicated?
AL: “Our intention is to follow the same mentality of the IRC and also to make the ERC open for new and young drivers, but also for the stars that wants to participate. We’d like to have the same open-minded approach to receive all the teams and drivers, and why not to make new stars as we’ve done until now for the future. ERC will be a championship for teams and drivers, not car manufacturers.”

Q: What about cars and classes?
AL: “We are open to all classes as out interest is to have more participants. We want to be open for teams, drivers, everyone. Of course there are sporting regulations, but we will try to maintain this with he FIA.”

Q: Are you satisfied with TV viewers’ interest for rally?
AL: “The audience of the IRC has reached more than 120 million houses in Europe and everything looks fine for rallying with this new deal with the FIA. Last year we had more than 100 million of viewers all around the world.”

Q: Are you planning to continue to broadcast live stages?
AL: “Yes, we’re planning to do that. But unfortunately, not from the Latvian rally. As you can understand, this is a very huge involvement from us with a lot of matters, first of all, financial, so for the moment just some stages from some rallies will be live.”

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53e Rallye Sanremo, Sanremo 22-24 09 2011