Tag Archives: europe

Quick Cup of (Irish) Coffee

While a full recovery from the back injury sustained in a heavy landing during Finland’s World Rally Championship round last week is his current priority, Craig Breen’s focus is very much on achieving more FIA European Rally Championship success on Barum Czech Rally Zlín later this month.


Q: It’s an event you last tackled in 2011 but how tough is Barum Czech Rally Zlín?
CB: “It’s a very tough event but it’s similar to what I know from back home in Ireland. The roads are bumpy and quite changeable if it rains. The problem is the shiny Tarmac, which can become very slippery and therefore a big challenge.”

Continue reading Quick Cup of (Irish) Coffee

Huge Junior interest in ERC

Fifteen of the best young rally drivers in Europe have signed up to contest the opening round of the inaugural FIA ERC Junior Championship in Latvia this weekend.

A new concept for the 2014 season, the ERC Junior Championship is open to rising talents under the age of 25 driving R2-specification machinery.

They will count their best four scores from a total of seven rounds with the winner making selected appearances on ERC events in 2015 at the wheel of an R5 car. The championship will also benefit from exclusive highlights on Eurosport, dedicated online promotion and media training by ERC promoter Eurosport Events. Continue reading Huge Junior interest in ERC

Charging Lappi leads action-packed Swiss ERC counter

Esapekka Lappi starts the final leg of Rallye International du Valais today with a clear lead on the FIA European Rally Championship season-closer. However, with the longest day of the Swiss event remaining, Lappi’s second ERC victory is far from guaranteed.

The rising Finnish star, who scored a debut ERC triumph in Poland last season, demoted overnight leader Andreas Aigner on Friday’s opening test. Although Aigner remained in touching distance at the completion of the morning loop, drier conditions in the afternoon left his production-based Subaru Impreza R4 STI lacking the ultimate pace to prevent Lappi from pulling clear in his Super 2000-specification ŠKODA Fabia.

Although Lappi insisted building his experience on asphalt was his main target rather than pushing for victory, the 22-year-old produced two sensational stage bests yesterday in his Michelin-shod Fabia to open up a healthy advantage starting today’s mixed-surface route, which covers a competitive distance of 146.3km.

“It’s been a good day with no problems at all,” said Lappi, who is competing in Switzerland less than a week after winning a rally in China. “The grip was much better in the afternoon loop and I got more confident with the corrected pacenotes so I could improve the speed. It’s the toughest day [today] and if we can win this race then it will be okay. But if the conditions are difficult we will back off and come to the finish.”

Despite losing the overall lead to Lappi, Aigner was highly satisfied with his performance in his Yokohama-equipped Impreza. “The times were fantastic in the morning. Okay we lost some time in the afternoon to Esapekka but I expected it. It’s a long day [today] and one mistake from him I will be there. [Today] is easier than [yesterday] for us with the gravel but it will be long and tough.”

Olivier Burri, the eight-time Valais winner, remains the top Swiss driver in third overall in a Ford Fiesta RRC with Vasily Gryazin fourth following another impressive performance from the Russian teenager in a Fiesta S2000. Nicolas Althaus is fifth with Jérémi Ancian climbing from 28th at the start of Day Two to sixth at the completion of yesterday’s final stage in Sion.

Rally International du Valais, Martigny 07-09 11 2013

Ancian has been playing catch up throughout the day yesterday after he was saddled with a three-minute time penalty for an early check-in prior to Thursday’s final stage. Such has been his determination to make up lost time that he was quickest on four stages yesterday in his Peugeot 207 S2000.

Peugeot Rally Academy team-mate Craig Breen had targeted a similar rise up the order having incurred a time penalty of two minutes on Day One. However, a knock on Friday’s first stage damaged his car’s powersteering and he was unable to prevent a significant time loss. The Irishman is eighth overnight.

Jaroslav Orsák is seventh on his return to ERC duty from injury. The Czech completed leg two by going fastest outright on the Sion spectator special at the wheel of the GPD Mit Metal Racing Team Fabia S2000 he’s using in competition for the first time in three seasons.

But while Orsák has enjoyed a strong second day on his Valais debut, team-mate and event regular Antonín Tlusťák retired with a broken exhaust at the start of the afternoon loop. Seven-time Swiss champion Grégoire Hotz is also out after his Peugeot Switzerland-backed 207 stopped on the road section heading to stage nine.

In the ERC Production Car Cup category, Swiss Subaru driver Florian Gonon is second behind runaway leader Aigner with young French driver Romain Salinas third on his ERC debut in a Renault Mégane RS N4. Robert Consani had been in third for Team Renault Sport Technologies only to retire on Friday’s first run with stud failure on his Mégane’s front-left wheel.

Sylvain Michel, in a Citroën DS3 R3T, reclaimed the ERC 2WD Championship category lead from Laurent Reuche on Les Casernes stage after the Renault Clio R3 driver had led for much of the afternoon. Mike Coppens is third with Stéphane Lefebvre a strong fourth in his R2-specification Peugeot 208. Ekaterina Stratieva leads the FIA ERC Ladies’ Trophy.

Leg three today consists of eight stages over a competitive distance of 146.30km, including more than 35km on gravel. The opening stage, Champex, measures 9.53km in length and goes live at 09:40hrs local time. The finish is scheduled for 16:30hrs at the CERM exhibition centre in Martigny.

Rally International du Valais, Martigny 07-09 11 2013

Jan Kopecky Interview: “I’m still learning!”

Czech driver Jan Kopecky might be 2013 European Rally Champion, but he’s still learning and gaining experience from different rallies, surfaces and situations. And he does so with great enthusiasm.

Liga Stirna met up with Kopecky at the ERC Rally Poland on the weekend, and had a chat with him for H&H:

Q: May I congratulate you as a new European Champion?
JK: “I don’t know; I was not counting. My mathematics always has been quite bad, you know.”

Q: But you might be the first champion of the new-look ERC?
JK: “Yes, it’s interesting and very good that IRC and ERC are now together in one event and here in Poland we saw that it is good challenge for everyone. And it’s nice also that local drivers have a chance to win: they do not need a factory car, and still can win a rally!”

Q: Rally Poland was very specific. Have you seen and driven in conditions like that?
JK: “No, no, no! It was quite difficult. Last year it was fully dry and not so many fast drivers at the start. We had to change setup, for the last long stage, and we were quite fast to keep our position.”

Q: What have you learned from this event?
JK: “That I still have many things where to improve on gravel as in Czech Republic we don’t have a single gravel rally. Last year I did one gravel rally, this year: three. And, I am learning!”

ERC Rally Poland, Mikolajki 13-15  Septmeber 2013

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Kopecky and Dresler smartly claimed victory in Czech, PLUS photo gallery

Jan Kopecky’s co-driver Pavel Dresler has praised him after they raced to their fifth victory in the 2013 FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) with a storming drive on Barum Czech Rally Zlín this weekend.

The Czech stars were unbeatable in their Skoda Motorsport Fabia S2000 on their way to claim the top spot by more than one minute over countrymen Václav Pech/Petr Uhel.

Afterwards, Dresler said: “I would like to thank Honza [Jan] because on the first day he showed how fast he could drive and on the second day he showed he could drive with his brain. It’s a perfect result and one of the goals in my career.”

Skoda’s Head of Technical Development, Dr Frank Welsch, said: ​“That was an impressive performance from the Skoda works team in front of so many excited supporters. Special congratulations must go to Jan Kopecky, who is now a three-time winner here,” said Dr Frank Welsch, the head of Technical Development at ŠKODA, who was in Zlín to watch Kopecky and Dresler triumph.

Kopecky, meanwhile, was full of praise for the factory Skoda team. He said: “First of all, I’d like to thank the whole team – they did everything perfectly. I’m so happy. That is a big victory for Skoda and for us. The basis of every success is a great team and Skoda Motorsport is a perfect team. Also the car was prepared very well, it was very reliable and very fast and simply in perfect order. On Sunday I drove with safety in mind; I didn’t want to make the same mistakes from 2010 when I threw away victory.”

Up next for Kopecky and Dresler is LOTOS 70th Rally Poland from 13 – 15 September.

Read the full event report in this week’s coming issue of HANDBRAKES & HAIRPINS.

Photos by ERC:

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Germany: Home of Volkswagen, Bratwurst and Hinkelsteins

This Youtube video will get you into the mood for next weekend’s WRC ADAC Rallye Deutschland… Are you excited yet?

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Molly bags more points in Romania

Australian rally driver Molly Taylor remains on track to become the first European Ladies Champion after gathering maximum points in Sibiu Rally Romania.

Taylor and her British co-driver Seb Marshall had a challenging weekend in the event which is well-known as a car breaker. Based around the beautiful city of Sibiu, 215km north-west of the Romanian capital of Bucharest, the rough and dusty roads and high temperatures made the weekend very tough out on the forest stages.

So demanding were the conditions that at the end of the first leg, Seb Marshall reported that the forest looked more like a car park – “with damaged cars littered everywhere”.

Early on Day One, Molly and Seb were wondering if they might be joining the retirement list after the steering rack failed on their United Business/BP Racing Citroën DS3 R3T.

That meant Molly drove for 20kms without power steering on a difficult, narrow and rough stage. The pair lost five minutes on the stage but were happy to make it back to service to have the rack repaired, after Molly had fought the car all the way.

“I had serious arm pump driving through that stage, it was probably the toughest thing I have ever done, and in very hot and dusty conditions, too. On some stages vision was really difficult too – it was like driving in fog and we had to take extra care to drive around the rocks. They were being pulled out onto the road by the cars ahead of us.”

There was another drama for the duo near the end of the event when they had a puncture and had to stop to change the tyre, costing them even more precious time.

Still, the crew focused on making it to the finish, their clear goal being to drive as cleanly and consistently as possible to gain maximum points for Molly’s tilt at the inaugural Ladies’ title. After this past weekend she is second in the tally, just one point away from leading the chase with four more events still to run.

MOLLY SIBIU Taylor_Rou_10[2]

“It was a really tough event, particularly when we lost the power steering,” Molly says.

“We had to work very hard over the weekend but I wasn’t going to let it beat me. A big thanks to the guys at BP Racing – they put the car back together at every service and kept us in the event.”

With several years of experience at international level rallying, Seb has experienced some tough events and totally agreed with his driver’s assessment of the gruelling test they came through.

“It was one of the hardest rallies I’ve ever done, rivalling Cyprus 2010 for physical and mental challenge. The stages were so rough. The car took a beating but the guys at BP Racing did a super job as always and Molly remained cool under massive pressure to get to the finish.”

Taylor and Marshall are tackling eight rounds of the European Rally Championship, with second in class (2WD) in Corsica and a stage win the highlight of the year so far.

Next event is the Barum Czech Rally (Czech Republic, August 30-September 1), Croatia Rally (September 26-28), Rallye San Remo (Italy, October 10-12), and Rallye International du Valais (Switzerland, November 6-9). All the events are covered by Eurosport.

Taylor and Marshall will miss an event in Poland when they compete with a privateer Ford team in the Australian world championship round at Coffs Harbour (September 13-15).

The ERC entry list includes drivers such as former F1 star Robert Kubica as well as WRC regulars like Francois Delecour, Jan Kopecky and Freddy Loix.

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