Peugeot announces new European Rally Championship programme

Peugeot will return to the European Rally Championship with a factory team of 208 T16s in 2017

Peugeot announces new European Rally Championship programme

The French marque abandoned the ERC last year in favour of the World Rally Championship-supporting WRC2 category, prompting castigation from ERC co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley.

But it will be back in 2017 with Peugeot Sport-run T16s for Pepe Lopez and Jose Suarez, the last two winners of its French Championship-based 208 Rally Cup series.

Both drivers are eligible for the ERC's new Junior U28 class that offers a WRC prize drive.

Peugeot Sport director Bruno Famin said Lopez and WRC2 convert Suarez's ERC move was "an opportunity to gain experience and fine-tune their professionalism without pressure as part a of a high-level operation".

Previous factory Peugeot drivers in the ERC and its Intercontinental Rally Challenge predecessor include Kris Meeke, Thierry Neuville, Guy Wilks, Craig Breen and Kevin Abbring.

ENTRY LIST RECOVERING

The ERC has struggled for profile in recent years amid diminishing factory interest and a lack of full-time frontrunning entries, but is showing signs of recovery ahead of its 2017 season - which begins with Rally Azores on March 30-April 1.

Last week the Sports Racing Technologies team that took Ralfs Sirmacis to three victories last season announced that it would enter a three-car Skoda Fabia outfit this year.

While Sirmacis only has the budget for two rallies so far, Nikolay Gryazin will contest a full campaign and Raul Jeets will return for selected rounds.

Former GT racer Albert von Thurn und Taxis, a race winner in Blancpain and 2010 ADAC GT co-champion, plans a full ERC season in a Wevers Sport-run Skoda.

Opel will also continue its factory effort in the R2 class and new Junior U27 category, running last year's ERC Junior runner-up Chris Ingram, ADAC Opel Rallye Cup champion Jari Huttunen and Red Bull-backed Tamara Molinaro.

Last year's ERC champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz hopes to announce his 2017 plans this month, while his '16 title rival Alexey Lukyanuk is believed to be deliberating over whether to make a WRC move or stay in the ERC.

CALENDAR CUT

The ERC suffered two calendar blows going into 2017, losing flagship events the Circuit of Ireland and Ypres Rally.

The Irish event will not run at all this year due to funding concerns, while Ypres has switched allegiance to the British Rally Championship.

That means the ERC schedule is down from 10 rallies to eight, but Ley hit out at Ypres' decision and defended his calendar late last year.

"The Ypres Rally organisers decided their event has a future without a partnership with a major international FIA championship or significant levels of television coverage," Ley told Autosport.

"An eight-event calendar is realistic when you consider the market and economic climate."

shares
comments
WRC prize drive included in ERC Junior revamp for 2017

Previous article

WRC prize drive included in ERC Junior revamp for 2017

Next article

European Rally Championship frontrunner Lukyanuk hurt in collision

European Rally Championship frontrunner Lukyanuk hurt in collision
Load comments

About this article

Series ERC
Author Matt Beer
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