ERC Junior preview: Rally Islas Canarias
An expanded 19-strong entry featuring some of rallying’s most exciting young talents has been assembled for this week’s Rally Islas Canarias with drivers building their experience on the all-asphalt stages following the gravel-based season opener in the Azores last month.
Canary Islander Emma Falcón is making her ERC1 Junior debut, while Pepe López returns to the category for young stars in R5 cars having impressed during a stint with the Peugeot Rally Academy in 2017. The Spanish drivers will be armed with Citroën’s C3 R5. Title leader Chris Ingram, Team OSCARO’s Pierre-Louis Loubet and former powerlifter turned rally prospect and Rally Islas Canarias rookie Alexandros Tsouloftas will also challenge for ERC1 Junior success.
The Pirelli-supported ERC3 Junior category welcomes newcomers Jean-Baptiste Franceschi, Grigor Grigorov and Nabila Tejpar with Tejpar due to formally announce her plans for 2019 in due course.
Miika Hokkanen makes his first start of 2019 in the R2 class as he continues his recovery from an operation on a shoulder injury during the winter. Category regular Kristóf Klausz is also back on ERC3 Junior duty, while Roland Stengg has a replacement Opel ADAM R2 at his disposal following a crash testing in the Azores, which prevented him from starting the island rally.
Like Franceschi, Grigorov, Klausz and Tejpar, FPAK-backed Pedro Antunes, Sindre Furuseth, ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team pair Elias Lundberg and Grégoire Munster, Roman Schwedt and ACCR-supported Jan Talaš are all new to the event, which features 16 Tarmac-only stages over a timed distance of 200.98 kilometres.
Rally Team Spain’s championship leader Efrén Llarena and Stengg Motorsport’s Simon Wagner both took part on the event for the first time last year. While Llarena crashed fighting for the lead, Wagner took his first ERC3 Junior podium.
Action begins with Free Practice and the Qualifying Stage on 2 May followed by two days of action. And this is what the ERC Junior drivers have had to say ahead of the second event of the season.
Click here for quotes from all ERC Junior drivers.