Fri 25 Mar 2022

Risk-taker Vilarino chooses first on the road in the Azores

Luís Vilarino is hoping for rain on the second round of the FIA European Rally Championship after choosing to open the road at the Azores Rallye tomorrow (Saturday).

The Spaniard opted to run at the front during the Start Order Selection ceremony in Ponta Delgada on Friday evening.

By going first, Vilarino will have to make his own lines and clear a path for the drivers running behind, which can lead to a loss of time in dry conditions. However, in wet conditions, which are forecast on the island of São Miguel over the weekend, a higher starting position can be advantageous.

“If it’s raining a lot then it will be better to be first,” Skoda Fabia driver Vilarino said. “If it’s not raining it’s a disaster but I don’t think like this. It’s a risk, but rally is about taking risks.” 

Qualifying Stage winner Javier Pardo, a member of the ERC-Michelin Talent Factory, earned the right to pick first and opted to start fifth. 

“It’s difficult to know the weather for tomorrow so it’s more or less a good position I think,” Pardo said.

“I’m not the first car but I am not in the back where there is lot of mud and gravel. But the most important thing is my father called me and told me to pick the fifth position so it’s no problem. I am very confident in the car, it works and feels very good. I hope with this road position I can have a good rally.”

Behind second-fastest driver Simone Tempestini, Efrén Llarena was third for Team MRF Tyres. He chose start position number 12 for himself and co-driver Sara Fernández, the ERC champion navigator from 2021.

“Last year we were 16 when it was raining so I think we are in the correct way, I think there will not be a problem and we will have a really good start position,” Llarena said. “We want to win this rally, it will be difficult but we are optimistic.”

The 56th Azores Rallye begins with the first of 14 stages from 08h18 local time on Saturday morning. 

  • Full coverage from the Azores Rally will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.
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