Flying to Fafe: ERC talking points

2021-09-26T22:05:27+02:00September 27th, 2021|2021, Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras|

Here are just some of the talking points ahead of this week’s Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras, round six of the 2021 FIA European Rally Championship.

*With a 34-point advantage, Andreas Mikkelsen not only heads the provisional FIA European Rally Championship standings, he also fronts a top-level entry for the final gravel-based event of the ERC season. The Škoda-powered Toksport WRT ace – and recently recruited co-driver Elliott Edmondson – are among 35 crews chasing ERC points on Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras.

*Following his last-gasp capture of third place on the 55th Azores Rallye, Efrén Llarena (Rallye Team Spain) is second in the standings and can count on previous Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras experience courtesy of a one-off start in 2018.

*Dani Sordo (pictured), who placed second in the Azores on his event debut and his first start for Team MRF Tyres, is a known quantity on Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras having won the event outright in 2019 driving a Hyundai i20 R5.

*Bruno Magalhães, a three-time winner in Fafe, finished sixth to Sordo that year but went four better in 2020 when he took the runner-up spot behind Armindo Araújo, the six-time Portuguese champion. Since his last ERC appearance in 2006, Araújo claimed back-to-back Production Car world titles and currently heads his national championship standings after five rounds. Magalhães, meanwhile, will have the all-new Hyundai i20 N Rally2 from Team Hyundai Portugal at his disposal.

*ORLEN Team’s former Polish champion Miko Marczyk, was a strong fifth overall when the ERC visited Fafe for the asphalt-based Rally Fafe Montelongo in 2020. He returns eager to build on his strong start to the ERC season and cut his seven-point gap to Llarena.

*Larena is the leading ERC-MICHELIN Talent Factory member after five rounds and will win the full tyre allocation for the season-closing ERC events in Hungary and Gran Canaria if he remains ahead of Marczyk in the standings after six rounds.

*Alexey Lukyanuk (Saintéloc Junior Team Citroën C3 Rally2), last year’s Rally Fafe Montelongo winner, and Norbert Herczig (Škoda Rally Team Hungaria) both non-scored in the Azores after troubled events, while Yoann Bonato was eliminated in a car-wrecking crash.

*Yacco ACCR Team’s Erik Cais (Ford Fiesta Rallly2) and Rallye Team Spain’s Nil Solans, the 2020 Spanish Gravel champion, also non-finished in the Azores where Mexico’s Benito Guerra was scoring points on his ERC debut.

*Hyundai Rally Team Italia’s Umberto Scandola makes his first Fafe start fresh from finishing a season-best sixth in the Azores. Scandola’s countryman Alberto Battistolli and Italy-born Romanian Simone Tempestini will be among the points-scoring contenders in Fafe, as will Spain’s Luis Vilariño, 2020 Rally Fafe Montelongo podium finisher Iván Ares and Simone Campedelli, who switches from a Team MRF Tyres Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 to a Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo and has pedigree on gravel.

*The experienced Alessandro Taddei partners Scandola at Hyundai Rally Team Italia, while Alexander Villanueva is one of 23 drivers competing in Rally2 machinery.

*As well as Araújo and Magalhães, the Portuguese championship contingent includes Miguel Correia, plus former national champions José Pedro Fontes and Ricardo Teodósio. Highly respected football coach and rallying fan André Villas-Boas will also fly the Portuguese flag in a Team Hyundai Portugal-entered i20 R5 for his first appearance on an ERC event. Villas-Boas will be raising awareness of the Race for Good charity.

*Igor Widłak continues his ERC adventure in an M-Sport Poland-built Ford Fiesta Rally3, while ERC2 promises to be close fight for supremacy between new championship leader Javier Pardo, plus Victor Cartier, in a self-built Toyota Yaris Rally2 Kit, Dmitry Feofanov and Joan Vinyes, Pardo’s Suzuki Motor Ibérica team-mate.

*Jean-Baptiste Franceschi (Renault Clio Rally4) will bid to defend his ERC3 title advantage from Peugeot 208 Rally4-driving rival Pep Bassas, the erstwhile leader. They will face opposition from local drivers Pedro Almeida – who is co-driven by Fafe resident Hugo Magalhães – and Ernesto Cunha. Łukasz Lewandowski (Opel Corsa Rally4) and Ola Jr Nore will also chase ERC3 points, as will championship rookie Çelik Çağlayan in a Toksport Renault Clio Rally5.