Sunday | 15 May 2022

Solans: 'We couldn't relax'

Rally Islas Canarias victor Nil Solans says he couldn’t afford to relax after taking the lead on the final morning.

The Spaniard secured his second victory in as many FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) starts yesterday (Saturday) and moved to second in the championship standings in the process.

Solans inherited the top spot on the second stage of the final leg when local hero Luis Monzón - who had led since SS3 - retired after a screw deflated one of his tyres. 

He carried a 10.4sec advantage into the last loop but was kept on honest by Efrén Llarena and Yoann Bonato as they scrapped for second position. 

“It was very disappointing for Luis, but it’s all about luck,” Solans told FIAERC.com. “We were really trying to push to catch him, but even after he retired we could not relax.

“Ten seconds is nothing,” he continued. “I pushed like hell and we are really proud of the rhythm we had this weekend because we made a lot of changes to the car and every time it was working better.”

Solans initially struggled to match the frontrunning pace as set-up issues hampered his progress early on day one. 

His Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 was understeering on the long corners and, as a result, the front tyres were getting too hot in the baking heat. 

Changes were made at Friday’s midday service before further tweaks again on Saturday morning, although Solans admitted he was never completely satisfied with the balance of the car.

“We didn't have the time or money to do a pre-event test, so during the rally we were changing and improving things,” he explained. 

“It was still not 100 per cent, of course. There were plenty of really long corners and we could not carry the speed, maybe it was the differentials or the dampers or something like that.

“We were not able to really change it once the rally started so we tried to improve the car on the chassis side over time just to hide this problem.”

Round four of the championship - Rally Poland - takes place in under one month’s time. Solans hopes to continue his title bid there, but admitted there is still work to be done to confirm an entry. 

“I just want to say thanks to the team and all of my sponsors - they did a really good job and the Pirelli tyres were working amazing.

“I think this win helps a lot because when you want to compete in the championship and you are fighting for the win, it’s like a good guide to help put the budget together. 

“I want to compete in Poland, but we need to see if we can find the support to do it.”