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Fri 22 Apr 2022

MRF: Canaries a 'weather lottery'

Azores Rallye winners Team MRF Tyres believes its hopes of victory at next month’s Rally Islas Canarias could be decided by the weather.

The team recorded its maiden FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) victory with Efrén Llarena and Sara Fernández’s late Azores win, but has now switched its focus to the asphalt of round three in the Canary Islands.

Rally Islas Canarias is the first sealed-surface fixture of the season, and it offers a unique challenge to competitors. 

While the abrasive roads provide high and predictable grip levels, the weather can change dramatically in an instant. As a result, choosing the correct tyre package ahead of each loop can be a headache. 

If you’re on slicks and it starts to rain, you’re in trouble. Likewise, take wets on a drying road and you may not have much rubber left by the end of the loop. 

“It’s a lottery in the Canaries,” confirmed MRF’s team representative Vivek Ponusammy. “Car number one might have an incredible amount of rain in a stage, but car number 15 may not even have a single drop of rain. 

“We have seen this first-hand in previous years with Craig Breen driving for us, and also last year with Nil Solans and Simone Campedelli. It is purely a lottery game. 

“Having said that, the roads are very grippy and we are going to have a private test with all three cars before the event, so let’s see,” he added.  

The Indian tyre giant remains confident about its chances for the 12 - 14 May encounter. Llarena finished runner-up as a privateer last year, while Italian star Campedelli wound up fourth after being lumbered with a 10sec penalty in his MRF-shod Škoda. 

“We are very humble going into this rally,” Ponusammy continued. “We know that we will have a fight on our hands, but we will keep upping our performance.

“Last year, we were running in the top three with Simone until he touched a bale chicane and got a penalty. But, if we take only the stage timing, I think we were setting an extremely good pace.”