European Historic Rally contenders head to Spain for Rally of Asturias

European Historic Rally contenders head to Spain for Rally of Asturias

Twenty-nine crews will benefit from an added incentive when they contest Spain’s Historic Rally of Asturias, round three of the 2024 FIA European Historic Rally Championship, from May 17-18.


Under new regulations for this season, the bonus points allocated to any FIA EHRC crew starting the Spanish Tarmac event will increase from two to 10 points. Along with Historic Acropolis Rally, which takes place in November, Historic Rally of Asturias is one of two rounds of this year’s FIA EHRC to offer the additional benefit.

 

But while the prospect of more starting points will appeal, the Pravia-based rally’s undulating stages through picturesque countryside means the event is already a big hit among FIA EHRC crews. That’s demonstrated by the strong entry, which includes competitors travelling from Czech Republic, Hungary and Sicily.

 

Historic Rally of Asturias is the third asphalt-based round of the FIA EHRC season in succession and follows the season opening Rally Costa Brava in March and last month’s Historic Vltava Rallye in Czech Republic.

 

Part of the FIA EHRC since 2014, Historic Rally of Asturias will begin with only a handful of points separating the various contenders in each category.

 

James Potter heads Antonio Parisi by nine points in Category 1 with Valter Jensen seven points in front of Category 2 rival Angelo Lombardo, the overall championship leader. Christophe Jacob holds a slender two-point advantage over Jesus Ferreiro in Category 3, while Olivier Capanaccia is six points ahead of Martin McCormack in Category 4.

 

Potter also tops the new-for-2024 FIA Historic 1600cc Trophy, with 6.5 points over László Mekler. Carlos Sampayo (Renault 11 Turbo) is the driver to beat in the FIA European Historic FWD Trophy although Natale Mirabile is just six points behind in the Fiat Ritmo Abarth 130 TC that he’s transported from Sicily. Meanwhile, FlexiFly Rally Team leads the entrants’ standings followed by Rododendri Historic Rally.

 

FIA EHRC 2024: how it works?
The FIA EHRC is for historic rally cars built prior to 1969 and homologated up to 1990. It’s divided into four categories (1-4) based on year of manufacturer with sub-divisions in Categories 2-4 to allow for different levels of car performance. 

 

Competitors count their best six scores from nine rounds held on asphalt and gravel between March and November. Events typically run for one and a half days following reconnaissance with approximately 150 timed kilometres on offer.

 

The overall title is contested by all drivers and co-drivers regardless of their category with all rounds counting. The FIA Historic 1600cc Trophy is for cars up to 1600cc from Categories 1-4 with the six best scores counting. The rise in the number of front-wheel-drive cars competing has been recognised with the FIA European Historic Front Wheel Drive Trophy with crews also counting their best six scores.

 

In addition, the FIA EHRC Teams’ Trophy, which has attracted more than 25 entries for the 2024 season, features a new bonus points system with 10 additional points on offer on the Historic Rally of Asturias and the Historic Acropolis Rally.

 

Three new titles are up for grabs in the FIA EHRC this season. An overall FIA European Historic Rally Championship crown is being awarded for the first time, while the FIA European Historic 1600cc Trophy and FIA European Historic FWD Trophy titles have also been introduced for 2024.

 

Although the creation of the all-new titles is partly in response to competitor feedback, their introduction is in line with the FIA’s desire to raise the profile – and spectacle – of the FIA EHRC, while also providing an accessible point of entry to international-level historic rallying.

 

Who’s in it to win it?
Having won the last three editions of Historic Rally of Asturias, Audi Quattro-powered Italian “Zippo” is the form driver and a favourite for FIA EHRC Category 3 honours.

 

Czech Vojtěch Štajf starts Historic Rally of Asturias on the back of winning Historic Vltava Rallye aboard his Toyota Celica GT-Four ST165, while Angelo Lombardo will be in prime position to move back to the top of the provisional standings.

 

The Porsche 911 Carrera Rs 3.0 driver from Italy was the leading FIA EHRC finisher on Rally Costa Brava in March when he also topped the Category 2 ranking. But Lombardo retired early from last month’s Historic Rallye Vltava due to a mechanical issue.

 

Martin McCormack was third among the FIA EHRC drivers on Rally Costa Brava despite gearbox issues slowing his Category 4 BMW M3. Tibor Érdi Jr will hope to rival McCormack in his extensively rebuilt Ford Sapphire RS Cosworth

 

After dominating the FIA EHRC Front Wheel Drive and 1600cc categories in his Ford Fiesta XR2 Mk1 on Historic Vltava Rallye, Jan Bejvl will travel from his native Czech Republic to Spain where Jesus Ferreiro will bid for home success. The Ford Escort RS 1800 driver was excluded from Historic Vltava Rallye due to a technical infringement, making plenty of points in Asturias a priority.

 

Defending Category 2 champion Valter Jensen has been forced to miss Historic Rally of Asturias through illness. C

 

Historic Rally of Asturias in brief
The 15th edition of Historic Rally of Asturias consists of 10 stages over a competitive distance of 130.796 kilometres. Leg one, which begins at 15:00 CET on Friday May 17 and covers 49.388 kilometres, takes crews west of Pravia for two repeated stages run either side of service in Muros del Nalón. The 81.408-kilometre second leg on Saturday May 18 gets under way with the Agones stage north of the host city from 10:34. That’s followed by the 14.515-kilometre Pravia test, the rally’s longest stage, and the Salas run, which are both located south of Pravia. Following service, the Agones, Pravia and Salas stages are repeated in the afternoon from 14:54. The podium ceremony and prize giving is held at the Parque Sabino Moutas in Pravia from 20:00. Click HERE for the event itinerary.

 

In addition to the largely smooth and wide Tarmac stages, Historic Rally of Asturias is characterised by frequent elevation changes, lush countryside and plenty of roadside plants and bushes. Heavy rainfall is also a feature of the Asturias region.

 


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