The FIA European Rally Championship will undergo a number of changes for the 2015 season, these changes are designed to reduce costs for competitors and strengthen the series.
The proposed changes were put forward by ERC promoter Eurosport Events Ltd at the FIA Rally Commission meeting in Paris. The changes aim to make the ERC closely mirror the structure of the World Rally Championship.
As of 2015, the ERC will be contested over a maximum of 10 events. Drivers, co-drivers and teams will also be required to register with the FIA to be eligible for championship points.
The overall ERC title will be for drivers, co-drivers and teams using R5, Regional Rally Cars and Super 2000 cars.
Teams will also be able to count their eight best scores (four from the first half of the season and four from the second half) to decide the championship.
Three sub-categories will also be running in 2015. ERC 2, ERC 3 and ERC Junior.
New category ERC 2 will be for Group N and R4 cars. The FIA has agreed to approve this series for three years.
ERC 3 will include two-wheel-drive cars that conform with FIA Regional Rally Regulations.
ERC Junior, which was introduced in 2014, will undergo some minor changes. Drivers will count their four best scores from six nominated events rather than seven. Drivers will still be restricted in age and must use R2-spec cars on Michelin tyres.
The most exciting development for ERC Junior competitors is the chance to take part in a training programme and chase a prize drive in an R5 car on and ERC event.
Cost cutting was also discussed at the FIA Rally Commission meeting in Paris. The committee decided that the total stage length for each round will be reduced to 220 kilometres, unless stated otherwise by Eurosport Events Ltd.
Tyre quantities will also be further restricted after consultation with tyre manufacturers and championship registration fees, which are yet to be set, will reportedly be kept at a reasonable level.
ERC Co-ordinator, Jean-Baptiste Ley said: “Adapting the ERC to the current market conditions but at the same time maintaining the championship’s high standards is the priority of Eurosport Events Ltd.”
“The changes and cost-cutting measures proposed should be welcomed by drivers and teams. Eurosport Events Ltd will try to introduce prize money for independent teams to encourage a high number of entrants.”
“With four different R5 cars on the market next year, we expect serious competition ahead in the ERC as a stepping-stone to the WRC.”
A proposal document detailing all the changes will be presented to the FIA Rally Commission for final approval at the end of August.