With Round 1 of the 2019 FIA European Historic Sporting Rally Championship, the Rally Moritz Costa Brava, getting underway in Spain today, it is a good time to look at the contenders, representing eleven different nations, for this year’s championship in the four categories.
The entry list includes champions past and present in a mouth watering selection of fantastic rally machinery. 2018 driver champions Antonio Parisi (Cat 1), Lazlo Mekler (Cat 2) and Valter Jensen (Cat 4) are all back to defend their titles.
Italian Antonio Parisi is returning with his championship winning co-driver Guiseppe D’Angelo to defend their Category 1 title in the Porsche 911S. The Italians completed a hat-trick of championships in 2018 after taking Cat 1 titles in 2016 and 2017. They also return to Spain after winning the Rally Moritz Costa Brava in 2018 and are one of the favourites to take the first victory of the season.
In total there are seven Category 1 entries which include the Volvo 122 driven by Finland’s Jari Hyvarinen, the Ford Escort Twincam of British driver Ernie Graham, the BMW 2002 Ti of Svere Norrgard (FIN), Elias Kivitila (FIN) in the Ford Escort Twincam, the BMW 2002 Ti of Carlo Fiorito (ITA) and the Ford Escort Twincam of Heiko Dlugos (DEU).
Hungarian crew Lazlo Mekler and Edit Mekler-Miko won the Category 2 FIA EHSRC title in 2018 and will compete, once again in the glorious Alfa Romeo 1750 GTAM in 2019. They finished the 2018 season on 85 points, just six ahead of their nearest rivals in the hard fought category.
There are a further five full season entries for Category 2, with the VAZ 2101 driven by Estonia’s Mattik Villu, the Porsche Carrera RSR of Anders Johnsen (SWE), a Porsche Carrera RS driven by Italian Paolo Pasutti, a Volkswagen 1303S of British driver James Calvert and the Porsche Carrera RSR of Belgian Carlo Mylle.
While reigning Category 3 champion Karl Wagner is missing from the 2019 full season entry list the battle will be on to see who will claim the 2019 crown. The contenders are Finnish driver Pentti Veikkanen in the Porsche 911 SC, fellow Finn Klaus Wilkman in the Triumph TR8 and the Opel Kadett C GT/E of Zsolt Kalapacs (HUN)
The third reigning champion crew is the Category 4 winners Valter Jensen and Erik Pedersen, the Norwegian pairing competing in the BMW M3.
Also competing in Category 4 is 2013/2015 Cat 2 Champion Mats Myrsell (SWE) in a Ford Sierra Cosworth 4x4, the Lancia 037 of Italian driver ‘Lucky’, the Ford Sierra Cosworth 4x4 of Spaniard Daniel Alonso Villaron and the Subaru Legacy Sedan 4WD Turbo of Spain’s Antonio Sainz.
The 2018 Team Champions Scuderia Coppa Amici have three entries on the full season entry list, including the Alfa Romeo 1750 GTAM of Lazlo Mekler. The other cars are the Cat 1 Ford Escort Twincam of Heiko Dlugos and Tim Rauber from Germany and the Cat 3 Opel Kadett C GT/E of Hungarian pairing Zsolt and Kornel Kalapacs.
Scuderia Coppa Amici amassed 183 points in 2018, 34 ahead of Historic Rally Club Finland, which have five cars on the full season entry and 2017, 2016 and 2015 Team Champions Rododendri Historic Rally with two entries.
Some teams have multiple entries with different cars. The EHSRC Sporting Regulations allows competitors to compete throughout the season with different cars, with some drivers having a car for asphalt rallies and another one for gravel. If a driver / co-driver is challenging for the championship title, they have to select their different cars bearing in mind the category title they are challenging for.
In addition to the full season entry list more competitors are expected to join the championship during the season. Additional entries are expected in the next few weeks for the rounds in the Czech Republic (Rd2), Spain (Rd3) and Belgium (Rd4). Entries can be at the least one week before the rally in which competitors wish to participate, with the FIA accepting championship entries until the 1st July 2019.