The 2015 FIA European Rally Championship got off to a thrilling start on the ice and snow of Upper Austria earlier this week with Kajetan Kajetanowicz, Vojtěch Štajf and Sławomir Ogryzek emerging as the three big winners.
Kajetanowicz claimed the overall victory on the Internationale Jännerrallye powered by GaGa Energy – and 7000 Euros in prize money – in his LOTOS Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5 with Štajf and Ogryzek taking the ERC2 and ERC3 laurels respectively. Kajetanowicz also opened up a huge lead in the ERC Ice Master classification by going fastest on all but one of the 18 stages.
Elsewhere, Robert Consani scored a ERC career-high second place following a fine drive, with Alexey Lukyanuk earning the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy after he battled back from 23rd to third after an engine issue on stage one. Click here for all the latest results and standings.
Kajetanowicz the big winner as 20,000 Euros ERC prize fund is handed out
Kajetan Kajetanowicz will return home to his native Poland a winner in more ways than one. Not only did the LOTOS Rally Team ace claim victory on the FIA European Rally Championship season-opener, he also bagged 7000 Euros in prize money.
ERC promoter Eurosport Events has created a package of financial rewards in partnership with several key stakeholders to assist drivers without manufacturer support competing in the ERC. It is the first time in recent history that a major international rally championship has offered a season-long prize fund and is another example of how Eurosport Events is assisting drivers and teams contesting the ERC, having previously introduced a number of cost-cutting measures.
The round-by-round prize fund of 20,000 Euros will be allocated to the seven highest-placed eligible drivers according to the final official classification. To be eligible, drivers must register for the ERC, receive no manufacturer support (Eurosport Events will determine privateer status in consultation with the manufacturer in question), use tyres from one of the three ERC partner companies (Michelin, Pirelli and Yokohama) and not compete in a Regional Rally Car. The prize fund allocation for the Internationale Jännerrallye is as follows:
First position: Kajetan Kajetanowicz, €7000
Second position: Robert Consani, €5000
Third position: Alexey Lukyanuk, €3000
Fourth position: Jaromír Tarabus, €2000
Fifth position: Jonathan Hirschi, €1000
Sixth position: Antonín Tlusťák, €1000
Seventh position: Vojtěch Štajf, €1000
The ERC Jännerrallye in numbers
This is a summary of the Internationale Jännerrallye powered by GaGa Energy, round one of the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship, in numbers of course:
17: Stages won by Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Jarek Baran
176: ERC Ice Master points scored by Kajetanowicz
7000: Prize money in Euros Kajetanowicz earned for winning in Austria
8.5s: Gap separating Jaromír Tarabus and Alexey Lukyanuk starting the final stage
20: Places gained by Lukyanuk following his delay on the opening stage with an engine issue
18: ERC3 driver Kristóf Klausz’s age, making him the youngest competitor on the Jännerrallye (pictured right)
3: Leg points scored by Craig Breen following his Rally 2 return
4: Top 10 overall times set by ERC3 winner Sławomir Ogryzek
237.80: Competitive distance in kilometres
3: ERC titles won by Simone Tempestini’s new co-driver Matteo Chiarcossi
Ice, ice Kajto in the ERC
Kajetan Kajetanowicz not only leads the FIA European Rally Championship standings following his victory in Austria – he also tops the ERC Ice Master classification.
The LOTOS Rally Team ace bagged 176 points after he won all but one stage on the Internationale Jännerrallye powered by GaGa Energy. He will head to next month’s Rally Liepāja with a 76-point advantage over fellow Ford Fiesta R5 driver Alexey Lukyanuk, who took one stage best in Austria and 100 points.
Jaromír Tarabus scored 56 points, Robert Consani 49 points, Stéphane Lefebvre 17 points, Craig Breen 11 points and Martin Fischeriehner three points, with Jonathan Hirschi and Hermann Neubauer each taking one ERC Ice Master point.
Along with the ERC Asphalt Master and ERC Gravel Master awards, the ERC Ice Master recognises the performances of surface specialists competing in the ERC. Points are awarded for each stage run on a scale of 10-6-4-2-1.
Kajetanowicz was last year’s ERC Gravel Master and Robert Kubica claimed the ERC Ice Master accolade, with overall champion Esapekka Lappi securing the ERC Asphalt Master honours.
Perfect ERC rally cheers star Consani
Robert Consani said his capture of second place on the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship season-opener was just “perfect”.
Co-driven by fellow Frenchman Maxime Vilmot, Consani impressed hugely on the ice and snow of the Internationale Jännerrallye powered by GaGa Energy, guiding his older-specification Peugeot 207 Super 2000 to the runner-up spot 12 months on from making his competition debut in a four-wheel-drive car.
And to underline the level of Consani’s performance, it emerged afterwards that he had completed the entire 238 kilometres on eight Pirelli tyres. “It’s incredible, I’m very happy,” said an emotional Consani at the finish of the final stage in Austria.
One of the most popular drivers in the ERC, Consani tackled all 11 rounds of the championship in 2014 and placed 10th in the final standings with two fourths to his name. He could have finished higher up the order but for a spate of unfortunate retirements. Click here to find out more on Robert Consani.
One down three to go for ERC leading lady Daňhelová
Martiná Daňhelová scored ERC Ladies’ Trophy success for the second year running in Austria – and revealed her programme for 2015 is likely to take in four rounds of the FIA European Rally Championship.
The Czech beat eventual ERC Ladies’ Trophy champion Ekaterina Stratieva to the class win on last year’s Internationale Jännerrallye. But with the Bulgarian not competing in Freistadt this season, Daňhelová raced to an unchallenged victory in the Renault Clio Sport she shares with co-driver and fellow Czech Karolína Jugasová.
After completing the snowy rally, Daňhelová said: “On some runs it was hell, on the other side it was fun. Day one was really hard but day two, with the sun shining, we are able to enjoy the race. We tried to drive with a good speed without risk and we are happy.”
Of her programme for the remainder of 2015, Daňhelová hopes to contest three more events including the Geko Ypres Rally and her home round, Barum Czech Rally Zlín.
Rally Liepāja information online
The updated Rally Guide, supplementary regulations, entry form and itinerary for Rally Liepāja, round two of the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship and the opening event of the FIA ERC Junior Championship season, are now available online by clicking here.
Q&A: Kajetan Kajetanowicz
The Pole came out on top of the FIA European Rally Championship season-opener in Austria. This is what he had to say.
Fastest time on all but the final stage and a winning margin of over seven minutes – how does this performance rate on your list of motorsport achievements?
“On the last stage I was just thinking about the finish. ‘I must finish this stage – I must finish this rally’, so it was really difficult. Of course I am really happy. Thank you to my team. It is a big result for the LOTOS Rally Team. This win is really important for us. I hope we can do the same again this year, but I don’t know where. Every rally is completely different. I like driving on snow, so this was good for us.”
You made it look easy, but the conditions were far from easy. How difficult was it to drive on the snow and ice, and how were you so fast without making mistakes?
“It wasn’t easy, because the grip was changing all the time – from ice to snow, then wet snow and Tarmac. But we did it and I don’t know how! I still can’t believe it; it’s amazing. It’s all much better than I thought before this rally.”
Now you are leading the ERC standings, what are your plans for the rest of the season?
“It’s only plans at the moment, but I hope we can be at Rally Liepāja in Latvia. Then I want to do Ireland, maybe Rallye Açores, but the general plan is to push because we are still learning. We have a great team – thank you to M-Sport, they are working very well and the Fiesta R5 is a fantastic car. I think we can achieve good results in the general classification of the European Rally Championship, but you must work hard.”