Wed 03 May 2023

Asphalt aces ready for ERC action on Rally Islas Canarias

The stage is set for the first asphalt round of the 2023 FIA European Rally Championship, Rally Islas Canarias.

Taking place from 4 - 6 May, the event has challenged ERC drivers and their teams on 30 previous occasions and this year’s edition, the 47th, will be no exception.

Precision-key asphalt roads that climb and descend and twist and turn with rapid frequency, combined with changeable mountain weather, make Rally Islas Canarias a tall order to master and a feast of high-speed entertainment that’s not to be missed.

Sell-out crowd to watch impressive line-up rally indoors
Fifty-nine crews, including 34 who are registered for the ERC, have entered the rally, which features a competitive distance of 190.06 kilometres divided between 13 special stages.

The first, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, will be a spectacle to behold as the ERC goes indoors – quite literally – from 21:05 local time (CET -1) on Thursday.

A section of the 1.88-kilometre test sends drivers charging through the Gran Canaria Arena basketball court where a sell-out 8000 capacity crowd will watch competitors perform a donut turn before powering towards the finish line – and all with a roof over their heads.

The Gran Canaria Arena’s basketball court will host action of a different kind tonight (3 May) when home side Gran Canaria take on Turk Telekom from Ankara.

The route and challenge explained
Following Thursday evening’s action in out-of-town Las Palmas, Friday’s leg consists of three stages each run twice over 88.72 timed kilometres. A further three double-use stages follow on Saturday with the rally-deciding Power Stage – San Mateo - Valsequillo – due to begin at 17:05 local time. At 27.74 kilometres in length, Moya - Valleseco is the rally’s longest stage and is run twice on leg two.

One of the notable features of the special stages is the abrasive surface, constructed partly from volcanic lava. It means grip levels are high and remain more constant if it rains, although tyre wear can increase in dry conditions. However, with the opportunity to take cuts through corners limited, the roads remain largely debris-free. Drivers pay close attention to corner speed and their lines to ensure optimum momentum is maintained, while precise car set-up and pacenote accuracy are also vital. 

Who’s in it to win it?
European championship leader Hayden Paddon is the top seed and his Pirelli-equipped Hyundai is one of 28 Rally2 cars entered. Unlike Paddon, Mads Østberg – 10 points behind in the title chase – has previous Rally Islas Canarias experience, as do his fellow MRF Tyres-equipped drivers Simone Campedelli, Andrea Mabellini, Javier Pardo and Mārtiṇš Sesks.

Established asphalt ace Yoann Bonato will be another driver to watch in an upgraded Citroën C3 run on Michelin tyres. The Frenchman finished Rally Islas Canarias 12 months ago tied on time with Škoda-powered Spaniard Efrén Llarena, the reigning European champion.

Other leading ERC contenders include Hungarian hopeful Miklós Csomós, French gravel champion Mathieu Franceschi, Finnish champion Mikko Heikkilä, former Junior WRC champion Tom Kristensson, top Czech Filip Mareš and double Austrian title winner Simon Wagner. Iván Ares, Enrique Cruz (pictured below), Óscar Palomo and José Antonio Suárez are just some of drivers flying the Spanish flag.

ERC3 driver Jon Armstrong will debut M-Sport Poland’s Ford Fiesta Rally3 Evo, while Roberto Daprà heads the ERC4 category runners in a Peugeot 208 Rally4.

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM