Budget saving is at the heart of the provisional 2021 FIA European Rally Championship calendar, with the inclusion of two back-to-back events part of continued efforts to reduce the cost of competing.
Approved during the recent online meeting of FIA Rally Commission members, the schedule from ERC promoter Eurosport Events will now go to the FIA World Motor Sport Council for final ratification when it gathers next month.
The provisional calendar consists of eight events with four on asphalt and four on gravel. Three ‘spare’ rallies have been nominated should any of the eight rounds be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Provisional 2021 FIA European Rally Championship calendar
Round 1: Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras (Portugal, gravel), March 12-14, 2021
Round 2: 55th Azores Rallye (Gravel), March 25-27, 2021
Round 3: Rally Islas Canarias (Asphalt), May 6-8, 2021
Round 4: 77th Rally Poland (Gravel), June 18-20, 2021
Round 5: Rally Liepāja (Latvia, gravel), July 1-3, 2021**
Round 6: Rally di Roma Capitale (Italy, asphalt), July 23-25, 2021
Round 7: 50th Barum Czech Rally Zlín (Asphalt), August 27-29, 2021
Round 8: Rally Hungary (Asphalt), October 22-24, 2021
**Subject to event promoter agreement
Spare events:Rallye Sanremo (Italy, asphalt)
Cyprus Rally (Gravel)
Spa Rally (Belgium asphalt)
Back-to-back events to reduce logistical expenditure
The gravel-based Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras and 55th Azores Rallye are set to form the 2021 FIA ERC’s first grouped event configuration. Following the completion of the Fafe event on March 14, a secure parking facility for the storage of rally cars, transporters, trailers and any support vehicles will be arranged ahead of the freight vessel departing for São Miguel island in the Azores on March 19.
Two more gravel rounds, 77th Rally Poland and Rally Liepāja are set to make up the next grouped event configuration. Once again a secure parking facility will be arranged ahead of the journey north from Poland to Latvia one week later.
It is hoped the storage provisions will remove the requirement for teams to return to their respective bases unnecessarily with part of the journey to transport vehicles to the next rally effectively completed with no additional cost.
Island-based events reduced to two, logistical support remains
The number of FIA ERC island events is set at two with boat transportation and a set number of flight tickets provided free of charge.
Later start planned for FIA ERC Junior drivers
FIA ERC Junior drivers will once again count their four best results from six rallies with more calendar details provided at a later date.
Introducing Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras
Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras is a new addition to the FIA ERC calendar for 2021. Using spectacular gravel stages in an area synonymous with rallying, event organisers have been long-term suitors of the FIA ERC. While the event will be based in Fafe, it will not include any of the Tarmac stages used on Rally Fafe Montelongo last month.
FIA ERC Co-ordinator Jean-Baptiste Ley on the 2021 calendar
Jean-Baptiste Ley, the FIA ERC Co-ordinator, said: “For the ERC success story to continue it’s essential that every effort is made to reduce costs when it’s practical and advantageous to do so. The 2021 ERC calendar has been structured with affordability and accessibility in mind. We therefore look forward to the back-to-back event configuration concept helping to reduce the cost of competing.
“We must also recognise the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and we believe the calendar is sensible and realistic. However, we will also follow all local restrictions and requirements with safety for all the priority. The inclusion of three ‘spare’ events on the calendar is a sensible course of action in the event that some rallies cannot take place and have to be replaced on the schedule.”
The 2021 ERC calendar also includes the all-Tarmac Rally Islas Canarias, Rally di Roma Capitale and Barum Czech Rally Zlin, which is set to celebrate its 50th edition next August. Rally Hungary is due to run as the season-deciding round in late October, two weeks earlier than previously.