The new-look FIA European Rally Championship is set for lift-off in Austria this weekend when the 30th running of the International Jännerrallye opens the 2013 ERC schedule from 3 – 5 January.
Based in Freistadt in Upper Austria, the rally’s smooth and undulating asphalt stages were coated in snow and ice when the ERC was last in town back in January. With early weather forecasts predicting similar wintry conditions, the prospects for an epic snow contest are very strong.
More than 60 crews have entered the main international event, which features 18 special stages over a competitive distance of 248.46 kilometres, while a further 33 crews are set to tackle the national-level rally. Honours in the Austrian and Czech championships will also be up for grabs.
The Jännerrallye is a huge draw for fans with more than 100,000 expected to follow the action on the ground. For those people who can’t make the trip to Austria, ERC promoter Eurosport Events will be filming and producing the event for television coverage, with Eurosport and Eurosport Player showing daily highlights and a review show.
Several national champions, established stars and rising talents will battle for glory when the ERC marks the start of its 61st year with the snow-based International Jännerrallye.
Champions from Austria (Raimund Baumschlager), Czech Republic (Jan Kopecký), Poland (Kajetan Kajetanowicz) and Romania (François Delecour) will take on several other notable names including former Rallye Monte-Carlo winner Bryan Bouffier, 2011 IRC 2WD Cup champion Jean-Michel Raoux, leading Czech drivers Vaclav Pech, Antonin Tlusťák and Pavel Valoušek, plus former world rally champion Stig Blomqvist.
In addition to the overall classification, the ERC 2WD Championship for classes five and 10 and ERC Production Car Cup for class 3 and R4 cars will be contested, while there are Teams’ championships for overall, 2WD and Production Car Cup.
“We are very pleased with the entry but also the conditions for the rally,” said event organiser Ferdinand Staber. “We have the moment fantastic winter weather with a lot of snow and one morning recently the temperature was minus 20 degrees centigrade, which is perfect. Lots of fans are expected – it’s going to be an exciting start to the new ERC season.”
*History was made on the Jännerrallye in 1981 when a four-wheel-drive car was used in competition for the first time with Franz Wittmann winning in an Audi Quattro by a margin of more than 20 minutes.
*The first Jännerrallye took place in 1969 but a lack of finance meant there was no event between 1986 and 2001. The event didn’t run in 2010 due to a permit issue.
*As well as being a counting round of the ERC, the Jännerrallye is a qualifying event for the Austrian and Czech championships.
*An estimated 140,000 fans visited the Jännerrallye in 2012 with 249 journalists from 13 countries accredited.
*Apple strudel and Wiener schnitzel are two popular Austrian dishes. In Upper Austria, dumplings are a favourite, while the Linzer Torte is a cake made from ground nuts and raspberry jam.
Starts: 19:30hrs, Thursday 3 January, Freistädter Messehalle
Finishes: 17:15hrs, Saturday 5 January, Freistädter Messehalle
Headquarters: Stierange 8, 4240 Freistadt
Service park: Stierange 8, 4240 Freistadt
Facts and figures:
Entries received: 63
ERC appearances: One (2012)
Stage distance: 248.46 kilometres (139.28 kilometres on day one, 109.18 kilometres on day two)
Liaison: 576.98 kilometres
Total: 825.44 kilometres
Surface: Asphalt (stages susceptible to snow and ice)