European Rally Championship boosts snow rounds in 2014 revamp
The 2014 European Rally Championship is set to kick off with a trio of snow rallies as part of a calendar revamp
The series has reshuffled its dates for next season, adding the classic Acropolis Rally as predicted by AUTOSPORT, as well as bringing the Circuit of Ireland and Cyprus - both ex-Intercontinental Rally Challenge events - back into the fold. An Estonian round is another new addition.
It has also moved the Sibiu Rally in Romania from July to the end of February to complete what will be a trio of snow rounds with Austria's Janner Rally and Rally Liepaja in Latvia.
The three events will also count as a new Winter Challenge mini-series.
Francois Ribeiro, head of ERC promoter Eurosport Events said increasing the calendar's snow quota had been a priority.
"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," he said.
"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 Transfagarasan 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."
Other changes in the ERC calendar revamp include the Tour of Corsica shifting from May to November to become the season finale.
The Canary Islands, Poland, Croatia and Sanremo loses their ERC dates next year.
Provisional 2014 ERC calendar: January 3-5 Janner Rally (Austria) Jan 31-Feb 2 Rally Liepaja (Latvia) Feb 27-Mar 1 Sibiu Rally (Romania) March 28-30 Acropolis Rally (Greece) April 17-19 Circuit of Ireland May 15-17 Rally Azores (Portugal) June 19-21 Ypres Rally (Belgium) July 17-19 Rally Estonia August 29-31 Rally Zlin (Czech Republic) September 19-21 Cyprus Rally October 23-25 Rally of Valais (Switzerland) November 6-8 Tour of Corsica (France)
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