Changes set to boost 2017 FIA European Historic Rally Championship


Several new changes will mark the 2017 edition of the FIA European Historic Sporting Rally Championship, which begins on 24-25 March at the Costa Brava Rally in Spain

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The Historic Motor Sport Commission instigated a broad consultation of the competitors and organisers active in the field of historic rallies during the course of 2016, gathering a broad range of opinions on the state of the FIA European Historic Sporting Rally Championship and understanding their expectations regarding the development of this competition, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

The Commission had already carried out an initial reworking of the format in 2015, reducing the number of eligible rallies from 15 to 11 as the existing programme, which was too full and too geographically disconnected, proved incompatible with the means, availabilities and affinities of the majority of potential competitors.

With the aim of encouraging the crews to take part more regularly over the course of the season – and by the same token increasing the average participation figures per event – the calendar of the 2017 edition has been further reduced: it now comprises nine rallies – including two on gravel – and each driver and co-driver may count a maximum of six results at the end of the season.

This reduction in the number of events meets the demand of the competitors themselves, expressed by the majority during the consultation in 2016. Other improvements were made to the championship after the results of this questionnaire were analysed. The minimum and maximum distances of the rallies have thus been reduced (130 km instead of 150 km and 200 km instead of 300 km respectively), and there is now a minimum interval of three weeks between each event and the next.

The limit on the number of tyres has also been revised. The tyre allocation per rally will be reduced from 14 to 10 for cars in Categories 2, 3 and 4, but this applies only to so-called “dry weather” tyres. The number of “wet weather” tyres, recognised and listed as such by the FIA, that may be used is unlimited.

The calendar of the 2017 Championship therefore comprises nine rallies: two will be run in Spain (Rally Costa Brava and Rally Asturias Historico), another two in Italy (Rally Alpi Orientali and Rallye Elba), one in the Czech Republic (Vltava Rally), one in Belgium (Ypres Historic Rally) and one in Hungary (Mecsek Rallye). The remaining two events will be gravel rallies; while the first, the Lahti Historic Rally, scheduled to take place in Finland in the summer, has been part of the European tour for several years, the second will be new for most of the competitors, as the Lausitz Rallye, based in Boxberg in Germany, will be joining the European Championship for the first time.

The FIA European Historic Sporting Rally Championship starts off this weekend in Girona, Spain, with the 65th Moritz Costa Brava Rally. Of the 72 crews who will take the start in the “sporting” rally (a national regularity and “Legend” event will be run as a support competition), 29 are entered specifically for scoring points in the European Championship (Championship entry list: click here).

Inevitable in historic rallies, there will be a large number of Porsche 911s (driven notably by Wagner, Myrsell, Antonio Sainz, Da Zanche, Silvasti, Johnsen, Parisi) and Ford Escorts (Ferreiro Perez, Van den Hoorn, Graham, Dameto, Kivitila) at the start, lining up against two rare and prestigious Lancia Stratos (Comas and Perez). The Championship has been open to cars of Period J2 (Groups A and N from the end of the 80s) since 2015, and there are increasing numbers of Lancia Delta Integrales (“Lucky”, Ambit), BMW M3s (Jensen, Cunningham) and Ford Sierra Cosworths (Alonso, Jones, Domenech) among the competitors entered for the year.

Free from any constraints relating to the European Championship, the Frenchmen François Delecour (Lancia Delta Integrale) and Christophe Vaison (Lancia Rally 037), the “guest stars”, will be able to put all their efforts into the battle for victory in Category 4 of this 65th edition of the Costa Brava Rally.