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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.”

Peu­geot: Pulled out of ’16 ERC Skoda ran works pro­gramme for S2000

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