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 later this month.
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.
The ERC Junior Championship runners on Rally Liepāja are as follows:
Fabrizio Andolfi (Italy)
Jan Černý (Czech Republic)
Andrea Crugnola (Italy)
Marijan Griebel (Germany)
Risto Immonen (Finland)
Chris Ingram (United Kingdom)
Petter Kristiansen (Norway)
Jean-Mathieu Leandri (France)
Stéphane Lefebvre (France)
Mattias Olsson (Sweden)
Tomas Pospisilik (Czech Republic)
Steve Rokland (Norway)
Florin Tincescu (Romania)
Kevin van Deijne (Netherlands)
Aleks Zawada (United Kingdom)
Drivers can still enter the ERC Junior Championship ahead of the second event of the season, the Circuit of Ireland Rally from 17-19 April. Email Jean-Baptiste Ley at Eurosport Events for more information by clicking here.
Quadruple Polish champion Kajetanowicz to continue his ERC adventure in Latvia
Four-time Polish champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz will enter Rally Liepāja from 31 January-2 February as he bids to get his FIA European Rally Championship title assault back on track.
Co-driven by Jarek Baran, Kajetanowicz will contest the Latvian winter spectacular in the LOTOS Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5 he used to set three fastest stage times on the ERC season-opener in Austria earlier this month.
“Rally Liepāja is a completely new event to us,” said Kajetanowicz, who was battling for the lead on the 31 Int. Jännerrallye, Oberösterreich when a jammed throttle pedal put him out. “We do not know the stages, so first of all this is a big challenge but the slight uncertainty and curiosity at the same time makes us even more motivated. We are in fighting mood, just like before every other rally. We are looking forward to see what the organisers of the Latvian round of European championship have prepared for the competitors. The rally in Austria is already behind us and we are pleased with our good pace at the beginning of the season. There is only one plan for the future: always do our best and fight for every inch of the road.”
Kajetanowicz will go up against several fellow ERC frontrunners in Latvia including ŠKODA drivers Esapekka Lappi and Sepp Wiegand, local hero Vasily Gryazin and Peugeot Rally Academy ace Craig Breen. A total of 55 crews have entered the event.
Tempestini Jr set for ERC car swap
Simone Tempestini will be swapping cars in this year’s FIA European Rally Championship, driving a Citroën DS3 R3, ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 and Subaru Impreza R4 STI.
The Romanian Junior champion will split his time between the Subaru and ŠKODA on the three ERC winter rallies before switching to the Citroën later in the season. He will also compete in Romania and in the World Rally Championship.
“We will have a busy schedule this year with rallies in ERC, WRC and the Romanian championship,” said Tempestini. “This is my learning period and I enjoy every stage in my career. It will be a great year for me for sure and it’s fantastic that I can start in the best rallies in the world in 2014.”
Tempestini forms part of the Napoca Rally Academy squad, which is overseen by his father and fellow competitor Marco Tempestini. He will use a Fabia S2000 on Rally Liepāja from 31 January-2 February.
New agreement secures ERC TV coverage in Lativa
Fans of the FIA European Rally Championship living in Latvia will get to enjoy extensive coverage of the series on television channel TV6.
TV6 will show a 52-minute highlight package from each round of the ERC with extra coverage of the Latvia-based Rally Liepāja also planned following an agreement between RA Events, SIA, MTG TV Latvia and ERC promoter Eurosport Events.
Latvia hosts round two of the 2014 ERC, Rally Liepāja, from 31 January-2 February.
Saintéloc to discover new stars with ERC Junior team
Leading FIA European Rally Championship team Saintéloc Racing is branching out in 2014 with the creation of its new Junior Team.
Saintéloc, which oversaw the progression of a host of star names including Mathieu Arzeno and Craig Breen, has signed Corsican Jean-Mathieu Leandri for its ERC Junior campaign.
“Since its debut in rallying in 2011, Saintéloc’s policy has always been towards youngsters and performance,” said Saintéloc team manager Vincent Ducher. “Running Jean-Mathieu Leandri in the ERC Junior Championship is the logical follow-on in our determination to help young drivers reach the topmost level. Other drivers will come and join him in the near future in the ERC.”
Saintéloc has also confirmed that it will join forces with its partners to offer additional backing to one of its drivers who manages to win the ERC Junior title. More details about this exciting initiative will be announced in the near future.
Q&A: Robert Kubica
The standout winner of the opening round of the FIA European Rally Championship, former grand prix racer Robert Kubica talks cooking, holidays and rallying.
Can you cook and what’s your signature dish?
“I can cook. I cook simple food, Italian style. I can do nice BBQs – I’m the master of BBQs. I prefer chicken and some seafood and stuff like this.”
What would be your ideal holiday destination?
“Actually it’s 10 years I have not been on holidays because I’m on holidays every day if I’m driving a car so there’s not really a place I would go to. My perfect day off would be driving an F1 car. Whatever grand prix doesn’t matter, it’s something that would be amazing.”
Who is your hero in life?
“I don’t have heroes but Pope John Paul II did amazing things for our country and I think Poles can be proud of the Pope we had.”
If you weren’t a rally driver what would you be doing to keep busy?
“I think I would be in motorsport working for a team or something but definitely in the motorsport world.”
What’s the hardest thing about being a rally driver?
“In rallying you have no possibility to learn each stage like you can a circuit so when you do these stages you have to take out as much information and try to use it in the future and evaluate every bit of the stage. You learn all the life, every day can bring new lessons.”