The 2021 FIA European Rally Championship fires up on ORLEN 77th Rally Poland from June 18-20 with myriad highlights in store. There’s a capacity talent-packed driver line-up, new cars, new teams, new categories, new rules, a new event later in the season, plus the latest crop of exciting young guns aiming to prove their worth as they continue the step up from national level to the world stage via the ERC.
ESSENTIALS
What:2021 FIA European Rally Championship round 1 of 8*
When: June 18-20
Where:Mikołajki and Warsaw, Poland
Stages:14
Distance:202.76 kilometres
Surface:Gravel
ERC appearances (since 2004 restructuring):11 (2004-2008, 2010-2013, 2018-2019)
*Also counting for:ERC2, ERC3, ERC Junior, ERC3 Junior, European Rally Championship for Teams, Abarth Rally Cup, Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT. ERC-MICHELIN Talent Factory incentives available

Recent winners:
2019:Alexey Lukyanuk/Alexey Arnautov (Citroën C3 R5)
2018:Nikolay Gryazin/Yaroslav Fedorov (Škoda Fabia R5)
2017:Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)*
2016:Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger (Volkswagen Polo R WRC)*
2015:Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC)*
*FIA World Rally Championship event

The rally in 100 words:
One of the world’s oldest rallies returned to the ERC roster in 2018 after a five-year break as Rally Poland replaced Rally Rzeszow as the country’s round of the European championship for its 75th edition. First run in 1921, Rally Poland’s home since 2005 has been Mikołajki in the picturesque Masurian lake district, a three-hour drive north from the capital Warsaw, where high-speed all-gravel stages are commonplace. And it was in Mikołajki where Kajetan Kajetanowicz first emerged as a major force in the ERC, taking the event win in 2013 prior to beginning his record-breaking title treble sequence in 2015.

The main changes for 2021:
While the bulk of main action will continue to be based around Mikołajki to the north, the final stage and finish will be held in Warsaw as part of the famous rally’s centenary celebrations. And to mark the milestone, the deciding stage on the streets of the capital has been named Rally Poland 100th Anniversary in honour of an event held for the first time in 1921.

The route in short:
Of the 14 stages, the majority use fast, flowing gravel roads. Three layouts are all-new for 2021 (SS 2/5, Świętajno; SS 4/7, Wieliczki and SS 13, Przasnysz). The Mikołajki Arena superspecial (SS 1/8) and Mikołajki Max (SS 9/11) are unchanged from 2019 when Rally Poland last took place. Olecko (SS 3/6) and Gmina Mragowo (SS 10/12) are largely similar to the versions used two years ago with Olecko continuing to include the spectacular Rosochackie jump. SS14 (Rally Poland 100th Anniversary) is the event’s only sealed-surface test and runs on Tarmac or cobblestones through the streets of Browarna, Furmanska and the world-famous Karowa in central Warsaw, home of Rajd Barbórka. Poland’s unofficial ‘Race of Champions’ and a mainstay of the country’s motorsport calendar every December has been won by triple ERC champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz on the last five occasions, but the event hasn’t run since 2019 due to the pandemic.

OVERVIEW
The 2021 FIA European Rally Championship fires up on ORLEN 77th Rally Poland from June 18-20 with myriad highlights in store. There’s a capacity talent-packed driver line-up, new cars, new teams, new categories, new rules, a new event later in the season, plus the latest crop of exciting young guns aiming to prove their worth as they continue the step up from national level to the world stage via the ERC.

Celebrating its centenary in 2021, Poland’s ERC counter is the first of eight scheduled European championship rounds, with four on asphalt and four on gravel between June and November.

While the ERC’s focus remains on providing a clear path of progression for drivers aiming for the top of the sport, it continues to be open to all-comers with a vast array of driver age and experience – plus machinery from the FIA Rally Cars Pyramid – all in action.

Ahead of the eagerly anticipated 2021 season getting underway, 76 drivers have registered with a record 72 entered for ORLEN 77th Rally Poland, including competitors in the revamped FIA ERC Junior Championship for Rally3 cars on Pirelli tyres, plus the new-for-2021 Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT, the arrive-and-driver series for the Renault Clio Rally5 using MICHELIN tyres. MICHELIN is also providing incentives for young talents in Rally2 cars using its products via the ERC-MICHELIN Talent Factory.

Administered by the FIA and promoted by Eurosport Events, the ERC is the established step-up series to the FIA World Rally Championship and is backed up by a global broadcast package, which includes extensive coverage on the various Eurosport platforms. Four stages on each event are shown live onFacebookandYouTube, while ERC Radio is on-air from all events.

ERC 2021: WHAT’S NEW?
*ERC1 Junior is renamed ERC Junior and is for Rally3 cars on Pirelli tyres. The champion gets a season in the Rally3-based WRC3 in 2022 as his or her incredible prize.
*A new prize package is on offer in ERC3 Junior with a full ERC Junior season in 2022 for drivers using the Ford Fiesta Rally4 from M-Sport Poland (or three events for those competing in another brand of car).
*ERC-MICHELIN Talent Factory rewards young drivers in Rally2 cars on MICHELIN tyres with a variety of incentives, including some to reduce budgets, during the season.
*Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT provides entry-level action on an arrive and drive basis for the MICHELIN-equipped Renault Clio Rally5.
*The gravel-based Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras in northern Portugal joins the ERC schedule for the first time, while long-term ERC partner events, Azores Rallye, Barum Czech Rally Zlín and ORLEN 77thRally Poland return after not running in 2020.
*M-Sport Poland has unleashed its all-new Fiesta Rally3 challenger, the first of its kind built to the FIA’s new rules. There are new Rally4 cars from Opel and Renault, while Rally2 Kit cars from Suzuki and Toyota are in contention for ERC2 points.
*Drivers in Rally2 cars are permitted to use a maximum of 16 tyres on asphalt and gravel events, with Rally3 drivers allowed to use a maximum of 16 tyres on asphalt and 12 on gravel rallies. For drivers in Rally4 and Rally5 cars, no more than 12 tyres can be used on asphalt or gravel.
*All drivers holding ERC priority status can score overall championship points in 2021, regardless of the type of FIA rally car they are competing in (Rally2, Rally3, Rally4, Rally5, Group N, Rally2 Kit and RGT).

POLAND SEASON OPENER ATTRACTS RECORD 72 ERC CREWS
The FIA European Rally Championship, the established feeder series to the FIA World Rally Championship, has once again underlined its appeal to drivers and teams one day hoping to step up to global level with a stunning entry for the season-opening ORLEN 77th Rally Poland. No fewer than 40 drivers will compete in headlining Rally2 cars with 14 assembled across the Pirelli-supported ERC Junior and ERC3 Junior categories representing 13 countries. ERC-MICHELIN Talent Factory incentives are up for grabs between six young talents in Rally2 cars, while the new-for-2021 Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT – the arrive-and-drive series for the MICHELIN-equipped Renault Clio Rally5 – can count on a multi-national line-up. ERC2 is a seven-way battle for glory with Abarth-powered Pole Dariusz Poloński among that number. Twenty drivers have their eyes firmly on the prize in ERC3 competing in Rally4 cars from Ford (M-Sport), Opel, Peugeot and Renault.CLICK FOR FULL STORY.

HAPPY 100TH ANNIVERSARY RALLY POLAND
When Rally Poland last took place from June 28-29, 2019 it was the 50th time the event had hosted the FIA European Rally Championship. The ERC’s eagerly anticipated return from June 18-20 will coincide with the gravel contest’s 77th edition but, significantly, its 100th anniversary.

On July 23, 1921, six cars set out from Warsaw on a 576-kilometre route to the Białowieża forest and back to the capital of the Republic of Poland. The winner was Tadeusz Heyne, one of the pioneers of the Polish automotive industry, who was behind the wheel of a Dodge.

Organisers of this year’s ORLEN 77th Rally Poland have been forced to run the event without fans lining the route despite the partial easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the country. It means no designated spectator zones will be created along the rally route, while access to the Mikołajki Arena superspecial and event closing Karowa Street stage in the capital Warsaw is also prohibited.

An update at Rajdpolski.pl confirmed: “All documents that were submitted to the relevant authorities a few weeks ago had to take into account the regulations in force at that time. Changing the arrangements leading to the receipt of consent for mass events is no longer possible for procedural reasons.”

Details of how to follow the action from home, including live on television, online and on radio, are available separately.

HOW TO FOLLOW?
On TV and online:
There will be live coverage, including from the ERC’s camera in the sky, plus expert commentary and analysis from Julian Porter and Chris Rawes, onFacebookandYouTubeof the following:

Qualifying Stage: From 15h00, Friday June 18
Pre-event press conference/selection of starting positions:17h45, Friday June 18
SS3:Olecko 1, from 10h05, Saturday June 19
SS7:Wieliczki 2, from 16h50, Saturday June 19
SS10:Gmina Mragowo 1, from 08h35, Sunday June 20
SS12:Gmina Mragowo 2, from 11h10, Sunday June 20
SS14:Rally Poland 100th Anniversary, from 18h00, Sunday June 20 (live coverage also on Motowizja)
Daily highlightswill be shown on Eurosport and Eurosport Player at 24h00 CET on Saturday and Sunday, while a number of videos will be published onFIAERC.comandYouTubebefore, during and after the rally. TheERC All Accessmagazine show will be broadcast on Eurosport at 23h00 CET on June 22, while the extendedRally Reviewprogramme is distributed to global broadcasters.

Videos, news update and live timing:Available atFIAERC.com
ERC Radio:Live from the end of stages. Available atFIAERC.comor download the official ERC App.
Social media:Follow the ERC onFacebook,Instagram,Twitter.
Don’t’ missRadio Olsztyn’s Rally Radio service, which will broadcast throughout the event.

ORLEN 77TH RALLY POLAND FIVE FACTS
1:Run for the first time in 1921 from the capital Warsaw, Rally Poland turned 75 in 2018, making it the second oldest rally in the world behind Rallye Monte-Carlo.
2:A founding round of the world championship in 1973 when current FIA President Jean Todt co-drove Achim Warmbold to victory on what was then a Tarmac event, Rally Poland’s ERC links date back to 1960 when German pair Walter Schock-Moll and Rolf Moll triumphed in a Mercedes-Benz 220 SE.
3:Mikołajki in the picturesque Masurian lake district has been Rally Poland’s base since 2005, which marked the event’s switch from asphalt to gravel stages.
4:A three-hour drive north of Warsaw, Mikołajki is home to the gigantic Hotel Gołębiewski, which doubles as event HQ and has grounds large enough to accommodate the rally’s service park and superspecial stage, the Mikołajki Arena.
5:Pole Sobiesław Zasada, who became outright ERC champion in 1971 after taking two category titles in the 1960s, is the most successful driver in Rally Poland history with four wins.
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