ERC3 Junior champion* Llarena off to a flying start in Cyprus
Efrén Llarena has picked up from where he left off on the Cyprus Rally, moving straight into the lead of the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC3 category on his first event since becoming ERC3 Junior champion.*
Fresh off from victory on the Barum Czech Rally Zlín last month, Llarena was immediately on the march in Cyprus, going fastest on all three stages of Saturday’s morning loop.
Llarena is also sporting unfamiliar colours on his Peugeot 208 R2. Having spent his ERC3 Junior campaign with the Spanish federation-backed Rallye Team Spain, Llarena has been given the opportunity to represent the factory-backed Peugeot Rally Academy team in Cyprus.
“We tried to be clean, not do a mistake with no puncture so it was not so bad. We are fast, we have some small temperature problems but it think it’s normal with this weather. For the next loop we need to manage the diference with the other guys.”
Erik Cais (ACCR Czech Rally Team) settled into second place on his Cyprus debut but was unhappy with his own driving throughout, spinning on the tricky second stage, which led to “many phone calls” as he tried to improve his Ford Fiesta R2T’s set-up on the road section.
An early favourite to keep Llarena on his toes was Orhan Avcioğlu (Toksport WRT), who finished fifth overall on this event last year with a ŠKODA Fabia R5. But a suspected sensor fault left Avcioğlu’s 208 R2 down on power and he finished the loop over a minute off the lead, though still occupying the final podium place.
Tarmac expert Florian Bernardi is appearing in only his second gravel rally in the ERC but is already in fourth place, 28.4s shy of Avcioğlu ahead.
Constantinos Televantos (Q8 Oils Rally Team) completes the top five, while 2015 ERC Ladies champion Ekaterina Stratieva is in sixth and on course for a second consecutive ERC Ladies win this season.
Leg one of Christos Mannouris’s home ERC event was a short one, as a car problem on stage one dropped him seven minutes and then forced him to park up and retire on the road section to stage two.
*Subject to confirmation of the results by the FIA