Fantastic start to FIA ERC

Kopecky in Janner action

Kopecky in Janner action

This weekend saw top-flight rallying get back under way in 2013 with the opening round of the new Eurosport-officiated FIA European Rally Championship. The snow/ice/slush/asphalt of Austria played host to the Jänner Rallye and drew a reasonable entry headed by the works Škoda Fabia S2000 of Czech asphalt ace Jan Kopeçky – who triumphed by just half a second.

A trouble-free run on the opening day, which saw the surface conditions changing from one stage to the next, saw Kopeçky at the front of the field by more than 20 seconds after opting to run on studded wet weather tyres, ahead of the Peugeot 207 S2000 of Bryan Bouffier and the Red Bull-backed Škoda of Raimund Baumschlager, who struggled initially on full snow tyres.

A puncture on the second afternoon, however, saw Kopeçky fall back and he entered the last stage 10.6 seconds behind Bouffier. In a drive that is sure to become a Youtube classic, the Czech star threw caution to the wind and beat Bouffier through by 11.1 seconds, making the margin for victory one of the closest on record.

Baumschlager claimed third, Czech regular Vaclav Pech was fourth in his MINI S2000 and Beppo Harrach finished fifth and first Production Cup runner in his Mitsubishi. The event also saw a return to action for two of the most enduring names in the sport, with François Delecour finishing seventh in his Peugeot 207 S2000 and Stig Blomqvist with a spring in his step aged 66, finishing 12th overall and fourth in Production Cup at the wheel of a Mitsubishi.

Noise and thunder – 1986 1000 Lakes

We love a bit of Jean Michel Jarre here at World Rally Fever. He is our number one composer of electric anthems and purveyor of city-sized concerts, which means his work is the perfect accompaniment to the might and majesty of Group B rally cars in their prime.

So enjoy these highlights from the 1986 1000 Lakes, with lots of Lancias and Peugeots, 6R4s but no Fords or Audis.

Quelle dommage, as Jean Michel would say.

Easy-peasy poll #1: your champion of champions

OK, so we’re taking a liberty here because any poll about the greatest WRC champion of all wouldn’t be worth its salt without Markku Alén or Sandro Munari, so we’re including 1977 and 1978. With that in mind, cast your eyes down these fine specimens of the genus Accelleratii Incredibus and cast your vote for your Champion among Champions.

Sandro Munari, 1977

Markku Alén, 1978

Bjorn Waldegård, 1979

Walter Röhrl, 1980, 1982

Ari Vatanen, 1981

Hannu Mikkola, 1983

Stig Blomqvist, 1984

Timo Salonen, 1985

Juha Kankkunen, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1993

Miki Biasion, 1988-89

Carlos Sainz, 1990, 1992

Didier Auriol, 1994

Colin McRae, 1995

Tommi Mäkinen, 1996-99

Marcus Grönholm, 2000, 2002

Richard Burns, 2001

Petter Solberg, 2003

Sebastien Loeb, 2004-12