The Azores Airlines Rallye will form part of the FIA European Rally Championship for at least the next three years, it was announced this week.
The extended agreement, between ERC promoter Eurosport Events and Azores Airlines Rallye organisers Grupo Desportivo Comercial, was announced at the podium ceremony following the finish of this year's 51st running of the gravel event, which counted as round four of the ERC and round two of the ERC Junior Championship.
ERC Coordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley joined Francisco Coelho, the chairman of the Organising Committee, in making the announcement to the thousands of fans who were present to celebrate Ricardo Moura as the first home winner of the Azores Airlines Rallye for 45 years.
“The Azores Airlines Rally is one of the most spectacular and highly-regarded events on the entire FIA European Rally Championship, having produced action and drama ever since it became part of our series. With the visual impact of the event forming a mainstay of our renowned television coverage, it's a natural place for us to remain over the next three years,” Ley said.
“We're delighted to conclude this latest agreement with Eurosport Events,” added Coelho. “Not only is it very good news for the Azores and for the sport as a whole, but also for the hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide who support our rally so enthusiastically every year. Many thanks to our title sponsor, all our other partners, and especially the Azorean government for making it possible.”
Based on the island of Sao Miguel, the mid-Atlantic archipelago's largest, the Azores Airlines Rallye has been a mainstay of the ERC since Eurosport Events became promoter in 2013 under a 10-year agreement with motorsport's world governing body, the FIA. It lists World Rally Championship drivers past and present Juha Kankkunen, Markko Martin, Kris Meeke and Andreas Mikkelsen among its former winners.