LEY: BRANDS NEED THE ERC
European Rally Championship co-ordinator Jean-baptiste Ley believes both Skoda and Peugeot are suffering from their decision to quit the ERC in favour of a World Rally Championship programme.
This year’s ERC runs without any frontline manufacturersupported programmes for the first time since Eurosport took over the promotion of the series. While Ley denied the lack of the manufacturers detracted from the spectacle, he said R5 manufacturers were still better served by ERC.
Ley told MN: “Skoda and Peugeot were more attracted by the WRC picture. It’s always talk about the world rather than European [championship] for external fans and for business, but my personal feeling is that Skoda and Peugeot developed R5 cars as pure customer products and they don’t select the best strategy on this.
“The problem is that 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. I think, from my point of view, it is not really a good strategy to increase their exposure.”
Ley said part of the ERC’S appeal was the stepping stone it provided between domestic rallying and the WRC.
“The ERC highlights the performance of unknown drivers,” said Ley. “And this helps them to jump to the WRC. For example, Craig Breen was strong in the ERC and is now in WRC; Stephane Lefebvre was the first Junior ERC champion and is now in the WRC and finally, Emil Bergqvist, last year’s Junior ERC champion, is now doing WRC. It is our job to promote these drivers and it’s working well.”
Ley is particularly proud of the take-up of Junior ERC, pointing out that it is more popular than both Junior WRC and the Wrc-based Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy.
“We have 13 drivers,” added Ley. “And this puts us at the top of the famous junior championships at international level.”
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