Sun 30 Apr 2023

ERC @ 70: All about the islands

With Rally Islas Canarias just around the corner, the latest in the ERC @ 70 series looks at the role island rallies have played in the rich history of the FIA European Rally Championship.

Corsica was first
There was almost a 20-year wait for the ERC’s first island rally with Tour de Corse handed the honour in 1970. Bernard Darniche, back-to-back ERC champion between 1976 and 1977, was the winner in Corsica.

A 41-year wait
There was another long wait – 41 years to be precise – between the last Tour de Corse to count for the ERC in 1972 and the championship’s return in 2013 when Bryan Bouffier finished first (below).

ERC stars tested on gravel and asphalt
Gravel and asphalt-based island events have tested the ERC stars and their cars over the years. Loose-surface events include the Azores Rallye and Rally Costa Smeralda with Rali Vinho da Madeira and the Manx International Rally among the Tarmac counters.

McRae the master
With three wins, Jimmy McRae (below), whose grandson Max will compete in Junior ERC this season, is second on the list of all-time Manx International Rally winners – the Isle of Man’s former ERC counter – with three victories. His son Colin is one place behind.

Super on the Costa Smeralda
Sardinia’s Rally Costa Smeralda was an ERC highlight in the 1980s and 1990s with a host of Lancia factory drivers, including Markku Alén, Miki Biasion, Juha Kankkunen and Henri Toivonen triumphing on the gravel event.

Two of the best
Not only did Rally di Sicilia host the ERC, the Italian island’s Targa Florio – Rally Internazionale di Sicilia (below) was also a regular on the European championship calendar.

Where King Carlos once ruled
Carlos Sainz’s tally of five Rally Islas Canarias (pictured top) victories is an event record. Double European champion Alexey Lukyanuk has won the event four times.

Step forward the island champion
Simon Jean-Jospeh, a two-time European champion, is from the Caribbean island of Martinique. Although he’s based in Corsica, Yves Loubet (pictured below in Madeira) was actually born in Algeria.

Not forgetting Cyprus
Although it’s an island country rather than an island, Cyprus can’t be forgotten for its important role in the history of the ERC. Rallying legends Nasser Al-Attiyah (pictured below), Stig Blomqvist, Jimmy McRae, Shekhar Mehta, Ari Vatanen and Björn Waldegård have all won the Cyprus Rally when it has counted for ERC since its first appearance in 1973.

And the ERC island ace is…
Piero Liatti’s ERC island-based successes are vast with three wins in Maderia, two on the Targa Florio and one on Sardinia’s Rally Costa Smeralda.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
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Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM