Apr 19

2013 FIA European Rally Championship, round four of 13

SATA Rallye Açores (Portugal) preview 

FIA ERC 2013 SATA Rallye Acores Bruno Magalhaes action imageThere will be serious competition ahead when the FIA European Rally Championship resumes on the Açores archipelago in the mid-Atlantic next week – and some serious live coverage too.


Four stages will be shown live on Eurosport and RTP Açores with a further two stages streamed as they happen and free-of-charge on the ERC’s official website, www.fiaerc.com. And with a star-studded line-up taking part – including Formula One race winner Robert Kubica and current ERC title-leader Jan Kopecký – the action will be too good to miss. Here’s a reminder of what’s in store:


SATA Rallye Açores LIVE broadcast schedule*

Friday 26 April 2013

SS7: Feteiras 1 (7.54kms): 14:00hrs-14:30hrs (www.fiaerc.com)

SS8: Sete Cidades 1 (23.97kms): 14:30hrs-15:30hrs (Eurosport, RTP Açores)

SS11: Feteiras 2 (7.54kms): 18:30hrs-19:00hrs (www.fiaerc.com)

SS12: Sete Cidades 2 (23.97kms): 19:00hrs-20:00hrs (Eurosport, RTP Açores)

Saturday 27 April 2013

SS14: Tronqueira 1 (21.33kms): 12:15hrs-13:15hrs (Eurosport Player, RTP Açores)

SS19: Tronqueira 2 (21.33kms): 19:00hrs-20:00hrs (Eurosport)

* All timings are CET and subject to change


The ground-breaking coverage, produced by ERC promoter Eurosport Events, will total five hours and feature stunning images captured by a helicopter-mounted Cineflex camera, 10 in-car cameras and static cameras at the stage starts and finishes. SimulCam, which was pioneered for use in rallying by Eurosport and allows the viewer to compare the performances of two drivers on a section of a stage at the same time, will also be used during the live broadcasts.


A spectacular challenge awaits…

Back on gravel following the all-asphalt round in Gran Canaria last month, the ERC runners will face 19 stages through some truly spectacular scenery and lush countryside. Covering a competitive distance of 240.79 kilometres, the roads on the island of São Miguel are characterised by their sandy surface and narrow nature.


Undulating and with stone walls lining large sections, there is simply no margin for error, particularly on the Sete Cidades stage, which includes a charge along the rim of a volcanic crater lake. With a changeable climate, tyre choice and car set-up can play a key role as can road position, which will be determined by the outcome of the Qualifying Stage on Thursday morning.


Taking place on a 3.27-kilometre stage, the 11 FIA and ERC priority drivers will get two practice runs before their sole timed effort. The fastest driver will earn the right to choose their starting position first followed by the second quickest and so on until all drivers have selected their road order. The remaining 31 competitors will start the rally in number order.


Fans attending the event will get an early glimpse of their ERC heroes with the City Show, a non-competitive run over a temporary course on the streets of host-town Ponta Delgada on Wednesday night. The event follows the popular ceremonial start from 20:30hrs local time.


Thursday’s route features four stages and concludes with the 2.20-kilometre Grupo Marques Super Special Stage constructed in a quarry where drivers compete against each other in pairs. On Friday, crews head to the west of São Miguel for eight stages with a further seven to the east on Saturday, the longest day of the rally at 111.15 kilometres.


…and there’s serious competition ahead

Thirteen Super 2000-category cars will do battle for ERC glory on SATA Rallye Açores. Czech Republic’s Jan Kopecký, who leads the standings on the back of wins in Austria and Spain is the top seed for ŠKODA Motorsport followed by Peugeot Rally Academy’s Irish talent Craig Breen and promising Czech privateer Jan Černý in a Fabia S2000.


Robert Kubica from Poland, who is making his first start in the ERC on gravel, is next up in his Citroën DS3 RRC with Frenchman Bryan Bouffier the fifth seed in a Peugeot 207 S2000. Ricardo Moura, the multiple Azorean champion, switches from his familiar Mitsubishi Lancer to a Fabia S2000. He’s the sixth seed ahead of German champion Mark Wallenwein and Portuguese Peugeot ace Bruno Mãgalhaes, a double Açores winner.


Seeded nine, Jérémi Ancian will be driving his 207 on gravel for the first time, while the highly capable Bernado Sousa has a Ford Fiesta RRC at his disposal. Jean-Michel Raoux makes his long-awaited ERC debut in a 207 and is seeded 11. Antonín Tlusťák heads the GPD Mit Metal Racing attack, one place behind 12th seed Janós Puskádi of Eurosol Racing Team Hungary.


In the ERC Production Car Cup, GPD Mit Metal’s Jaroslav Orsák has upgraded to an R4-specificaiton Mitsubishi for a rare start on gravel. Napoca Rally Academy’s Marco Tempestini (Subaru Impreza) and emerging Ukrainian talent Vitality Pushkar will both be out to impress as will top Portuguese Miguel Barbosa, Edwin Keleti of Romania, Russian driver Artem Nazarov and Marco Tempestini’s teenage son Simone.


Eurosol-Honda Civic Type R’s Zoltán Bessenyey will be bidding to preserve his lead of the ERC 2WD Championship but the Hungarian will face strong opposition from Austrian Renault Clio driver Hannes Danzinger, Suzuki pilot Hermann Neubauer and Frenchman Stéphane Lefebvre, who completes the Peugeot Rally Academy entry in a 208 R2. Henrique Moniz is the reigning Azorean two-wheel-drive champion, while Australian Molly Taylor will begin her bid for ERC Ladies’ Trophy silverware against Bulgaria’s Ekaterina Stratieva.



Portugal’s finest and double Açores winner prepares for ERC return


Since crashing out in Açores last year you’ve not competed on many rallies have you?

“Before Rally of Portugal last week, my last rally on gravel was in the Açores last year and my last rally of any kind was in Madeira last August. But I’ve made some kilometres in testing to find the rhythm and, on Monday, I will do a test in Açores, which will be important.”


After winning in 2008 and 2010, can you challenge for a third win?

“I really don’t know. In this moment you have very good drivers in very good cars. I’m not with my perfect rhythm but my ambition is the same. I love this sport so I think I can do a very good rally in Açores. I will try to push and if I can make a podium it would be great.”


One of your key rivals will be Formula One race winner Robert Kubica. What do you think of his performances in rallying so far?

“He’s a fantastic driver who impressed me a lot on his first time on gravel recently. He’s also a very nice guy to talk to. Everybody in the world knows who Robert Kubica is so it’s very important he’s competing in rallying.”


Is this the first of many appearances for you in the ERC?

“For this moment I have the sponsorship for this rally and Madeira. But it is my goal to try to do more events in the European championship. For this I need more money but the television coverage we have on Eurosport helps a lot the drivers to convince sponsors to support them.”


A qualifying stage will be used to determine the starting order among the FIA and ERC priority drivers for leg one. How much of a challenge will this be?

“It won’t be easy because there’s going to be big pressure. You want to do the best time you possibly can but you can’t crash or your rally will be over before it has started.”

 FIA ERC 2013 SATA Rallye Acores Robert Kubica action image


* The Açores archipelago, which lies approximately equidistant between Lisbon and New York in the Atlantic Ocean, consists of nine islands formed from a series of volcanic eruptions. São Miguel to the southeast, where the rally is based, is the biggest at 747 km2, while Corvo, to the northwest is the smallest at 17km2.

* Known as the Green Island due its lush and fertile landscape, São Miguel is famous for its changeable weather with sunshine one minute and rain the next.

* Ricardo Moura might be a multiple Azorean champion but he’s never won his home event, which ran for the first time in 1965 and takes place for a 48th time this season.

* Azorean menus are big on fish and seafood with barnacle a particular delicacy. It wouldn’t be unheard of to start a meal with a dish of local mashed red peppers and cheese.

* While the event has never enjoyed full European Rally Championship billing before, it did achieve coefficient 2 status in 1992.



Starts: 20:30hrs, Wednesday 24 April, Praça Gonçalo Velho, Ponta Delgada

Finishes: 19:15hrs, Saturday 27 April, Praça Gonçalo Velho, Ponta Delgada

Headquarters: Pavilhão do Mar, Portas do Mar, Av. Infante Dom Henrique, 9500 Ponta Delgada

Service park: Portas do Mar, Av. Infante Dom Henrique, 9500 Ponta Delgada

Facts and figures:

Entries received: 42

ERC appearances: None (from restructuring of championship in 2004)

Stages: 19

Stage distance: 240.79 kilometres (34.74 kilometres leg one, 94.90 leg two and 111.15 leg three)

Liaison: 498.92 kilometres

Total: 739.71 kilometres

Surface: Gravel

source: satarallyeacores.com, www.fiaerc.com