YPRES: ERC GOING BACKWARDS Ypres Rally: The competitors to watch
Belgian event’s future in the European series is in doubt beyond 2016
The organisers of the Ypres Rally could walk out of the European Rally Championship next season – feeling the series is going “backwards.”
The Belgian classic remains one of the jewels in the crown of European rallying, but rally manager Alain Penasse says he’s disappointed at the entry for this week’s event and the logistical implications of the calendar. If there’s not an improvement in both next year, the event is ready to step away from the FIA regional series.
Penasse told MN: “We are quite disappointed about the ERC, this is going backwards and backwards and backwards. You have a lot of competitors at an amateur level that’s quite good, but there’s no leading teams anymore. People had a huge interest in the IRC when it was there. There was so much competition in that championship, but now you see it’s only two boys playing the championship. It’s disappointing.”
Three of the first four rounds of this year’s ERC have run on islands and Penasse says that’s not helping the event or the competitors.
“Look at the countries,” said Penasse. “They are not the cheapest ones – there are a lot of islands in there and, yes, the organisers give good support for this, but it’s the manpower you have to run in the ERC. If you do Gran Canaria, it takes one or two mechanics away for three weeks and your car is also away for this long. We have the same problem with Azores: by the time the cars are back, it’s already too late for Ypres. It’s never helping and we have to think and remember these guys are privateers. It doesn’t help that the events aren’t really in a logical order.”
Asked about the future for Ypres in the ERC, Penasse added: “We have to look how it goes next year and what is there – we need two teams coming back, we need Skoda Motorsport and Peugeot Sport coming back. If we do that, then these teams will bring more entries.”
ERC officials are considering Penasse’s comments, but prefer to save their thoughts for next week’s Motorsport News.