Q: The 2014 FIA ERC calendar is very exciting indeed. How satisfied are you?
A: “We have worked on this calendar for many months with the objective of creating a schedule of events that offers a wide variety of surfaces and terrain but spread over the balance of the season. We’ve also ensured a good mix of established and emerging rallies, plus hallmark events, such as the Acropolis, Circuit of Ireland, Tour de Corse and the Cyprus Rally.”
Q: You mentioned the Acropolis Rally, Circuit of Ireland Rally, Tour de Corse and the Cyprus Rally. What does it mean for the ERC to have such famous events on the schedule?
A: “We are thrilled to include these events on the ERC calendar for 2014. The Acropolis is a name synonymous with rallying and the organisers are planning a real big push for the event’s 60th anniversary celebrations. The Circuit of Ireland is the third oldest rally in the world and its forward-thinking organisers have exciting plans in place for 2014. The Cyprus Rally gave a big push to return to the ERC and help teams with logistics. The Tour de Corse remains the stuff of legend and is a very good event to finish the season. It’s also several weeks after the Rallye de France WRC event and this was important to the French Federation.”
- François Ribeiro, Rally Liepāja-Ventspils 2013 (photo. Aigars Tīdmanis, www.go4speed.lv)
Q: The ERC Winter Challenge is new for 2014. What more can you say about this?
A: “It was always the plan to maximise the number of events run in the winter months because rallying on snow and ice is truly spectacular. We were looking for a way to overcome the roughness of the gravel stages in Romania. When the Sibiu Rally organiser accepted to switch to February, it made complete sense to set-up a three-event Winter Challenge and incentivise drivers to participate. There will be separate points and awards with a Winter Challenge champion crowned following the final event in Sibiu, which is going to be a classic with a stage on the famous Transfăgărășan mountain pass. It may be the best road in the world to organise a special stage, halfway between Pikes Peak and Alpe d’Huez cycling climb, and it’s coming to the ERC in 2014.”
Q: How important was achieving a greater mix of surfaces in the calendar?
A: “It’s vitally important to offer competitors, manufacturers, fans and the media a variety of surfaces as it creates added interest and increases the challenge on offer. While some drivers relish competing on all surfaces, others prefer to specialise on one surface. With more events on each surface on offer they are able to do this and be a title contender at the same time.”
Q: The calendar spans 11 months from January to November. What benefits will this bring?
A: “With pretty much one rally per month, each rally will become a focal point and the interest in the ERC will be maintained for almost the entire calendar year. Teams have been all asking for a better spread of rallies across the season and contribution to the cost of ferries for the Açores and Cyprus to reduce their logistic budget so they’re closer to an event based on mainland Europe.”
Q: We’ve seen the revamped calendar for 2014 but what else will be new for next year?
A: “Standby for an announcement soon when we’ll reveal more details about the ERC in 2014 and some cost saving initiatives for the teams.”