Leaving for WRC2 has hurt Skoda and Peugeot, says ERC chief

Skoda and Peugeot are suffering because of their decision to leave the European Rally Championship for the World Rally Championship's WRC2 class, reckons ERC co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley

Leaving for WRC2 has hurt Skoda and Peugeot, says ERC chief

Both manufacturers ended long relationships with the ERC and Eurosport's predecessor series the Intercontinental Rally Challenge at the end of last season.

Though Ley understands why they were drawn towards the WRC, he believes their motorsport profile has declined.

"Skoda and Peugeot were more attracted by the WRC picture," Ley told Autosport.

"It's always [better to] speak about the world rather than European for external fans and for business, but my personal feeling is that Skoda and Peugeot developed R5 cars as pure customer products and they're not selecting the best strategy on this.

"When they are in the ERC, they are at the top.

"They are under all the lights and able to win the rallies at the top of the category and they receive a very high level of media and television coverage.

"Now they have decided to jump to WRC, which could make sense, but the problem is they are not at the top level.

"Instead they are totally hidden, they are in the shadows of the real WRC manufacturers.

"From my point of view, it is not really a good strategy to increase their exposure and their business."

The works Peugeot and Skoda teams took 15 outright wins between them during the first three seasons of the relaunched ERC in 2013-15.

Skoda ran Jan Kopecky and Esapekka Lappi to the 2013 and '14 titles, but curtailed its programme last year and only contested its home event in the Czech Republic as it began to prioritise WRC2.

Pontus Tidemand's WRC2 victory in Portugal earlier this month was the first of 2016 for the works team.

Peugeot's factory Rally Academy programme has been trimmed to a single entry for Jose Antonio Suarez in WRC2 after running Craig Breen's ERC title bids in 2014/15.

The ERC is now dominated by privateers, with Breen hiring a Citroen for a victorious one-off return in Ireland.

NO WRCS IN THE ERC

Despite the loss of two key R5 manufacturers, Ley said there were no plans to change the technical regulations in the ERC.

He ruled out any interest in the series becoming a home for the current World Rally Cars when that series moves to new regulations in 2017.

"The best car for us is R5," Ley said.

"We took the decision to ban Regional Rally Cars last year because the cars were not cost-effective enough for the strategy we have in the ERC.

"We know how difficult it is for private drivers to find the budget for international series and that's why we put lot of logistical support on for the island rallies and €200,000-worth [£157,000] of prize money in an effort to decrease the cost.

"This [series] does not allow the most expensive cars to compete in the ERC."

shares
comments
Craig Breen wins Circuit of Ireland for second year running

Previous article

Craig Breen wins Circuit of Ireland for second year running

Next article

Ypres could quit European Rally Championship as it goes "backwards"

Ypres could quit European Rally Championship as it goes "backwards"
Load comments

About this article

Series ERC
Author David Evans
Ireland deserves a WRC round Plus

Ireland deserves a WRC round

Drivers are in accordance: Ireland should be in the World Rally Championship. DAVID EVANS followed the Circuit of Ireland and was left with no doubt that the drivers are right

ERC
Apr 23, 2014
Kubica's rally to recovery Plus

Kubica's rally to recovery

Robert Kubica's rally speed is obviously there - in abundance - but he's got to stop crashing. Charles Bradley went to the Azores to get the lowdown on the ex-F1 star's comeback trail

ERC
May 3, 2013
Why Kubica can win on ERC debut Plus

Why Kubica can win on ERC debut

Former GP winner Robert Kubica makes his international comeback this week in the Canaries Rally. And David Evans reckons he'll win aboard a Citroen DS3 RRC

ERC
Mar 21, 2013
Rallying's new era keeps the best of the old Plus

Rallying's new era keeps the best of the old

As the IRC to ERC transformation takes effect in Austria, David Evans is excited that the IRC's promotional strengths will carry over - but still wishes the WRC could get some of that magic

ERC
Jan 3, 2013
Farewell IRC, long live ERC Plus

Farewell IRC, long live ERC

As the Intercontinental Rally Challenge prepares for its swansong in Cyprus, David Evans recalls the shortlived series' heyday - and looks ahead to its European successor

ERC
Nov 1, 2012
The 2011 IRC season review Plus

The 2011 IRC season review

The fifth Intercontinental Rally Challenge was the best yet, and it was Skoda UK driver Andreas Mikkelsen who emerged as champion from a tense five-way shootout at the season finale. Matt Beer reviews the season

ERC
Nov 22, 2011
Who to watch in the Monte Carlo Rally Plus

Who to watch in the Monte Carlo Rally

This year is the Monte Carlo Rally's centenary and, just as in recent years, there's no shortage of World Rally Championship stars turning up to give the IRC regulars a run for their money

ERC
Jan 18, 2011
The top 10 IRC drivers of 2010 Plus

The top 10 IRC drivers of 2010

The competition didn't run as deep as it might have, but there was plenty of fight at the front with six of our top 10 winning rallies during the season. Matt Beer puts them in order

ERC
Nov 29, 2010