Full Jänner Rallye Preview

Full Jänner Rallye PreviewFrom ERC Media [ 22/12/2013 ].
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Some of Europe’s best drivers will prove their worth as Ice Masters when the 2014 FIA European Rally Championship powers into action on the 31 Int. Jännerrallye, Oberösterreich from 3-5 January 2014. The asphalt showcase, which first ran in 1969 and attracted 100,000 spectators when it hosted the opening round of the 2013 ERC, is based in Freistadt, 40 kilometres north of the city of Linz in Upper Austria. The stages in the spectacular Mühlviertel region use fast, undulating country roads, with ice and snow adding to the challenge facing the crews.

As well as counting as the first event of the 12-round ERC schedule, which will enjoy extensive coverage on Eurosport, the rally is also the opening event of the Austrian and Czech championship seasons. It provides the first opportunity for drivers to chase ERC Ice Master points, an exciting new initiative developed by ERC promoter Eurosport Events.

Close on 50 cars are entered for the international section of the Jännerrallye with Formula One race winner turned rallying superstar Robert Kubica the top seed in his Ford Fiesta RRC. The entry list also includes Austria’s ERC Production Car Cup champion Andreas Aigner, his ERC 2WD title-winning counterpart Zoltán Bessenyey from Hungary, plus the national champions from Austria (Raimund Baumschlager), Czech Republic (Václav Pech) and Poland (Kajetan Kajetanowicz).

The event features 18 stages over a competitive distance of 245.60 kilometres. A Qualifying Stage, held on the morning of Friday 3 January, will be used to decide the starting order among the priority drivers.

ERC aces to make performance step
Several ERC regulars will be taking a step up in performance in Austria. Andreas Aigner, Robert Consani and Hermann Neubauer are among those sampling more advanced machinery than they used in 2013, with Aigner and Consani both competing in Peugeot 207 Super 2000s and Neubauer armed with a Subaru Impreza R4 STI for the first time. Meanwhile, ERC 2WD runner-up Kornél Lukács will switch to a four-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX having campaigned a Citroën C2R2 in 2013.

R5 cars out in force in the ERC
Three new-generation Ford Fiesta R5s are entered with Czech drivers Roman Odložilík and Pavel Valoušek, plus top Pole Kajetan Kajetanowicz all competing in the M-Sport-built cars. Valoušek scored the first ERC stage win for an R5-specification car last season, while Kajetanowicz bagged the car’s maiden outright victory in the ERC.

Young ERC hopefuls out to impress
Several future stars will be in action including young Latvian promise Vasily Gryazin, emerging Czech talent Jan Černý, rated Hungarian Kornél Lukács, rising Ukrainian Vitaly Pushkar, German hope Raffael Sulzinger and Simone Tempestini, the current Romanian Junior champion. Černý, Lukács, Pushkar and Tempestini will all be in contention for ERC Production Car Cup honours, where rapid Austrian Beppo Harrach is expected to provide their strongest opposition.

Tarabus to start ERC adventure in Austria
Jaromír Tarabus, a frontrunner in the Czech championship for several seasons, will begin his ERC campaign on the Jännerrallye, one of as many as eight rounds that Tarabus is due to tackle in his Kresta Racing-prepared ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000. Compatriot and European championship regular Antonín Tlusťák is also expected to contest several ERC rounds in 2014 in a Fabia.

Danhelová and Stratieva to chase ERC Ladies’ Trophy honours
Martina Danhelová and Ekaterina Stratieva will battle for ERC Ladies’ Trophy honours in Austria. Stratieva finished runner-up to 2013 champion Molly Taylor, while Danhelová made a one-off ERC appearance in her native Czech Republic last term.

What’s new in the ERC in 2014?
New rallies, new categories and new awards are all in store for the ERC in 2014. The Acropolis Rally, the Circuit of Ireland Rally, auto24 Rally Estonia and the Cyprus Rally are all new for the upcoming season, while Sibiu Rally Romania becomes a winter event. The FIA ERC Junior Championship will get underway on Rally Liepāja in late January; the ERC Manufacturers’ Cup begins in 2014, while surface specialists will be rewarded with the creation of the new ERC Asphalt, Gravel and Ice Master accolades.

FIVE FACTS

*History was made on the Jännerrallye in 1981 when a four-wheel-drive car was used in competition for the first time. Driving an Audi Quattro, Franz Wittmann won by a margin of more than 20 minutes.

*Speaking of iconic rally cars, event regular Stig Blomqvist will drive a Quattro course car as part of the 30th anniversary celebrations of his world rally title triumph in 1984.

*The first Jännerrallye took place in 1969 but a lack of finance meant there was no event between 1986 and 2001. The event didn’t run in 2010 due to a permit issue.

*Ernst Haneder is a baker in Jännerrallye host town Freistadt when he’s not competing. A brush with a telegraph pole ended his hopes of a finish last season.

*Apple strudel and Wiener schnitzel are two popular Austrian dishes. In Upper Austria, dumplings are a favourite, while the Linzer Torte is a cake made from ground nuts and raspberry jam.

ON THIS RALLY IN 2013

ŠKODA driver Jan Kopecký claimed what would be the first of six ERC victories during his title-winning season by repeating his Jännerrallye triumph of 12 months previously. In a dramatic finish, Kopecký beat Bryan Bouffier (Peugeot 207 S2000) to victory by half a second after he fought back from a late puncture. Multiple Austrian champion Raimund Baumschlager finished third. Austria’s Beppo Harrach clinched the Colin McRae Flat Out Trophy for his performance to win the ERC Production Car Cup. Hannes Danzinger recovered from a puncture to win ERC 2WD in a Renault Clio.

EVENT ESSENTIALS

Starts: 19:30hrs, Friday 3 January, Messehalle, Freistadt
Finishes: 17:28hrs, Sunday 5 January, Messehalle, Freistadt
Entries received: 49
ERC appearances: Three (since restructuring of ERC in 2004)
Stages: 18
Stage distance: 245.60 kilometres (138.40 kilometres leg one, 107.20 kilometres leg two)
Surface: Snow and ice-coated asphalt