The provisional calendar for the 2016 FIA European Rally Championship was presented to the FIA Rally Commission this week, with the series maintaining its 10 rally format to help limit costs.
Eurosport Events, the ERC promoter, has created another exciting calendar of events which, compared to 2015, has a later February start in Latvia and a season finale in Cyprus in September.
The 2016 ERC season kicks off with the challenging Rally Liepāja in Latvia, held between 5-7 February in the spectacular high-speed snowy Baltic forests. The first of two new-for-2016 asphalt rallies follows, in the form of Rally Islas Canarias (11-13 March), which returns to the ERC for the first time since 2013. Next up is one of the oldest events on the international calendar, the Circuit of Ireland Rally (7-9 April), while the new 6-8 May date for the SEAJETS Acropolis Rally should help to ensure a classic dry gravel event next year. Round 5 is one of the most spectacular gravel rallies in the world, SATA Rallye Açores, which takes place between 2-4 June.
The second half of the 2016 ERC begins on asphalt with the Kenotek by CID LINES Ypres Rally (23-25 June), before the series goes to the ultra-fast gravel roads of auto24 Rally Estonia (15-17 July). The second new rally in the series follows on 5-7 August, with Poland hosting the Rajd Rzeszowski, which is an exciting asphalt event. ERC favourite Barum Czech Rally Zlín hosts the final round of the ERC Junior championship between 26-28 August, while the ERC series finale takes place on the Cyprus Rally (24-25 September).
All the ERC events will be run over a competitive distance of between 200-230 kilometres as part of on-going cost-cutting measures, together with on-going restrictions on testing and tyre use implemented in 2015.
Jean-Baptiste Ley, ERC Co-ordinator, said: “We were delighted to present the 2016 FIA European Rally Championship provisional calendar to the FIA Rally Commission, keeping the most iconic rallies of the ERC on a total geographic coverage of Europe with a perfect balance in term of surfaces and planning.
“With the increase of rounds in the WRC calendar, it was difficult to arrange at least a three-week gap between each event, and four to five weeks between the furthest island rallies.
“As we have done since Eurosport Events took over the promotion of the ERC, we continually try to keep costs to a minimum with generous logistical assistance to help competitors contest the events in Canarias, Azores and Cyprus.”
The asphalt Rallye International du Valais, which hosted the final round of the 2015 ERC in Switzerland, is the reserve event in 2016, while the 2015 opener, the International Jännerrallye in Austria has been dropped.
The provisional FIA European Rally Championship calendar for 2015 will now be submitted to the FIA World Motor Sport Council for final ratification at its meeting in Paris on 2 December.
2016 FIA European Rally Championship calendar - provisional
5-7 February Rally Liepāja
(Latvia, gravel/ice/snow) (J)
11-13 March Rally Islas Canarias
7-9 April Circuit of Ireland Rally
(Northern Ireland, asphalt) (J)
6-8 May SEAJETS Acropolis Rally
(Greece, gravel) **
2-4 June SATA Rallye Açores
(Portugal, gravel) (J)
23-25 June Kenotek by CID LINES Ypres Rally
(Belgium, asphalt) (J)
15-17 July auto24 Rally Estonia
(gravel) * (J)
5-7 August Rajd Rzeszowski
(Poland, asphalt) NEW
26-28 August Barum Czech Rally Zlín
(Czech Republic, asphalt) (J)
24-25 September Cyprus Rally
20-22 October Rallye International du Valais
(J) Indicates FIA ERC Junior Championship round
*Subject to signing of ERC Promoter agreement
**Subject to signing the ERC Promoter agreement and sporting power delegation to the local federation