ERC event preview: Rally Islas Canarias
After four action-packed rounds, the 2020 FIA European Rally Championship will be decided on Rally Islas Canarias from November 26-28 with four titles up for grabs and a top-quality entry featuring 27 Rally2 -specification cars and 45 ERC-registered crews gearing up to tackle the all-asphalt stages.
Russian Rocket Alexey Lukyanuk tops the overall standings on the back of wins in Italy and Portugal but he must stave off the threat from teenage talent Oliver Solberg if he’s to win the coveted FIA title for a second time in three years.
As well as being a contender for overall honours, Solberg is chasing the ERC1 Junior crown and the €100,000 grant on offer for two ERC events in 2021. However, Hyundai Junior Driver Grégoire Munster stands in his way after moving to the head of the order with a second consecutive category win in Hungary.
Munster was an outside contender for the overall title, but with the Spa Rally no longer taking place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are now not enough points on the board for the Belgian talent to chase.
No Spa also means, 2019 ERC3/ERC3 Junior champion Efrén Llarena’s bid to win the ERC1 Junior crown for Rallye Team Spain is over for 2020, while Pep Bassas can no longer take the fight to Ken Torn in ERC3/ERC Junior with the Estonian now able to use Rally Islas Canarias as an extended ‘lap’ of honour following a hugely impressive campaign alongside co-driver and fellow Estonian Kauri Pannas
Hungary’s Tibor Érdi Jr needs 14 points to be crowned King of ERC2 for a third time, but Andrea Mabellini follows namesake Andrea Nucita as the Abarth Rally Cup title winner for 2020 due to his unassailable points total. Rallye Team Spain and Saintéloc Junior Team are at full strength with three entries each in their fight for the FIA European Rally Championship for Teams.
Rally Islas Canarias, which also counts for several national and local championships, features 17 stages over a competitive distance of 201.79 kilometres with the Estadio de Gran Canaria its new home and service park base for 2020 in line with COVID-19 restrictions.
One of the notable features of the sealed, undulating stages is the abrasive surface, constructed partly from volcanic lava. It means grip levels are high and remain constant even if it rains, although tyre wear can increase. However, with the opportunity to take ‘cuts’ through corners limited, the roads remain relatively debris-free.
Following a squeezed recce schedule over one and a half days, ERC registered crews head straight into Free Practice and the Qualifying Stage on the afternoon of Thursday November 26. The results of qualifying are used to determine the starting order for Friday’s opening leg, which runs southwest of the Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria, over nine stages. The event concludes on Saturday following a further eight tests.
With the event running behind closed doors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, fans can watch live coverage of four stages on Facebook and YouTube, get all the instant action and reaction on ERC Radio live from the end of stages, while daily highlights will be shown on Eurosport.
All titles are subject to the publication of the final results.
What: 2020 FIA European Rally Championship round 5 of 5*
When: November 26-28
Where: Las Palmas, Gran Canaria
Distance: 201.79 kilometres
ERC appearances (since 2004 restructuring): 5 (2013, 2016-2019)
*Also counting for: FIA ERC2, FIA ERC3, FIA ERC1 Junior, FIA ERC3 Junior, FIA European Rally Championship for Teams, Abarth Rally Cup
2019: Pepe López/Borja Rozada (Citroën C3 R5)
2018: Alexey Lukyanuk/Alexey Arnautov (Ford Fiesta R5)
2017: Alexey Lukyanuk/Alexey Arnautov (Ford Fiesta R5)
2016: Alexey Lukyanuk/Alexey Arnautov (Ford Fiesta R5)
2015: Miguel Fuster/Ignacio Aviñó (Porsche 997 GT3 RS)*
HOW THEY STAND (PROVISIONAL POINTS AFTER ROUND 4/5):
ERC1 (Drivers): 1 Lukyanuk 116; 2 Solberg 89; 3 Munster 83; 4 Llarena 50; 5 Breen 46; etc.
ERC1 (Co-drivers): 1 Eremeev 116; 2 Johnston 89; 3 Louka 83; 4 Fernández 50; 5 Nagle 43; etc.
ERC2 (Drivers): 1 Érdi Jr 120; 2 Melegari 112; 3 Mabellini 89; 4 Feofanov 78; 5 Gobbin 78; etc.
ERC2 (Co-drivers): 1 Csökö 80; 2 Bonato 80; Kokins 78; 4 Arena 64; 5 Cervi 45; etc.
ERC3 (Drivers): 1 Torn 150; 2 Bassas 117; 3 Molle 55; 4 Rådström 38; 5 Vogel 35 etc.
ERC3 (Co-drivers): 1 Pannas 150; 2 Coronado 117; 3 Barral 55; 4 Johansson 38; 5 Notheisz 35; etc.
ERC1 Junior: 1 Munster 125; 2 Solberg 124; 3 Llarena 79; 4 Marczyk 78; 5 Cais 77; etc.
ERC3 Junior: 1 Torn 150; 2 Bassas 117; 3 Rådström 45; 4 Molle 45; 5 Almeida 41; etc.
ERC Teams: 1 Rallye Team Spain 197; 2 Saintéloc Junior Team 183; 3 Estonian Autosport Junior Team 151; 4 Team MRF Tyres 102 (subject to final decision regarding Rally Liepāja fuel sample analysis); 5 DriftCompany Rally Team 87; etc.
Abarth Rally Cup: 1 Mabellini 75; 2 Rada 43; 3 Gobbin 36; etc.
Click HERE to view the full provisional standings after four rounds