When we speak about “rallying”, most of us instantly think about the World Rally Championship. But the most enthusiastic know. In the worldwide landscape of rally, there are indeed other competitive championships, among whom you will find the European Rally Championship (ERC). A little less known than his big brother, it is not less interesting, on the contrary. Organized by Eurosport Events, with FIA support, the 2018 ERC will start in the Azores, on March 22nd for it’s 66th edition.
In the volcanic lands of the Azores, to the Chypriotic arid fields, to the cobbled streets of Rome and the Latvian forests, the European Rally Championship (FIA ERC) regroups some of the most beautiful landscapes of the Old Continent. It is a open air theatre, who attracts the attention of the most passionate racing fans across Europe from March to October.
In its history, the championship has been subject to two major changes. In 1953, it is created as the European Grand Touring Championship, before becoming the European Rally Championship in 1961. In 2013 it merges with the Intercontinental Rally Challenge to create the current form of the ERC.
During the first round of the 2018 season in the Azores, 35 R5 rally cars (four-wheel drive cars, the premier category of the ERC), will line up at the start, only two less cars than the outright R5 record from the 2017 Barum Czech Rally Zlín with 37 R5 cars. A big number, which proves that the year ahead announces itself to be even more competetive than in previous years.
According to the FIA, the growth and attractiveness of the championship is easy to explain: “Its the ultimate training ground for young drivers who dream to reach the top”. The organisation speaks obviously knowingly. Of the 20 drivers in the 2018 WRC Season, nine of them have passed by the ERC. Among them you will find Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR), Thierry Neuville (BEL) or even Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN).
In 2018, eigth rallies are on the schedule: five on gravel and three on asphalt (six in ERC U28, three on each surface). Only the six best results count for the final classification. In the ERC U28 category (where Pierre-Louis Loubet is competing), only the four best rallies will be decisive.
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