Tue 23 Apr 2024

Numbers rising: 29 Rally2 cars to battle for ERC Rally Islas Canarias points

Interest in the FIA European Rally Championship has hit new heights with the publishing of the entry list for Rally Islas Canarias, round two of the high-action ERC title chase.

After 28 ERC-registered Rally2 cars lined up for the V-Híd Rally Hungary season opener earlier this month, 29 top-of-the-range machines are set for a fast-paced asphalt adventure on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria from 2 - 4 May.  

But with a further three Rally2 cars also entered, albeit not eligible for European championship points, a 32-car Rally2 entry underlines the popularity of the ERC and the Las Palmas-based event, which is gearing up to join the FIA World Rally Championship in 2025.  

Forty-eight crews are in contention for ERC points on Rally Islas Canarias. In addition to 29 ERC1 entries, two drivers will be in the thick of the FIA ERC3 battle, while 16 will gun for FIA ERC4 points with 14 of those eligible for Hankook-equipped FIA Junior ERC honours.  

BRC Racing Team’s Hayden Paddon, the defending ERC champion and the runner-up on his Rally Islas Canarias debut in 2023, tops the 48-car European entry in the Pirelli-equipped, BRC Racing Team Hyundai i20 N Rally2 he shares with co-driver John Kennard.  

Yoann Bonato, the Rally Islas Canarias winner one year ago (below), makes his first start of the ERC season. But while his choice of Citroën C3 Rally2 and Michelin tyres are known quantities, Bonato’s team, Trajectus Motorsport, is new to the championship.

Former ERC champion Efrén Llarena (below), third in Gran Canaria last season, is the leading Spanish contender for Team MRF Tyres, while Mathieu Franceschi will also rely on Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 power as he bids for back-to-back ERC podiums.  

Miklós Csomós returns to Rally Islas Canarias 12 months on from a car-wrecking crash that forced him to miss three events while he sourced funding to build up a replacement Fabia Rally2 Evo.   

Erik Cais, Miko Marczyk, Andrea Mabellini, Jon Armstrong and Filip Mareš complete the top 10 ERC entries, while Mārtiņš Sesks, Mads Østberg and double ERC champion Alexey Lukyanuk – a three-time Rally Islas Canarias winner – can also be expected to battle for the top positions.   

With ERC rules allowing drivers to count their best seven scores from a possible eight, Simone Tempestini, who banked his maiden European championship victory in Hungary, has elected not to include Rally Islas Canarias on his 2024 schedule. He will target June’s BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia for his next ERC challenge.

Leading Spanish talents to battle ERC aces in Canarias
Several leading contenders from the Supercampeonato de España de Rallyes (the main Spanish championship) will be in action on Rally Islas Canarias to take on the ERC regulars but also score point towards their own domestic championship totals. They include current SCER leader José Antonio Suárez, second-placed Diego Ruiloba and Alejandro Cachón, who holds third in the standings. Like ERC regulars Filip Mareš and Mārtiņš Sesks, Cachon will be at the wheel of a Toyota GR Yaris Rally2. Hyundai-powered Iván Ares and Óscar Palomo will also challenge for success, as will triple Rally Islas Canarias winner Luis Monzón and reigning Canary Islands champion Miguel Suárez.  

Junior ERC stars tuned-in for Tarmac
Fourteen Junior ERC contenders are entered for Rally Islas Canarias with Max McRae the leading seed following his breakthrough V-Híd Rally Hungary victory. While the nephew of the late Colin McRae excelled on the gravel of round one, he’s one of 13 Junior ERC drivers contesting the all-asphalt Rally Islas Canarias for the first time, which is set to result in a wide-open victory battle. With the event not forming part of the 2023 Junior ERC schedule, only Daniel Polášek has previous Rally Islas Canarias experience to count on dating back to 2022. Jack Brennan, Calle Carlberg, Patrik Herczig, Mille Johansson, Liam Müller, Geronimo Nerobutto, Davide Pesavento, Aoife Raftery, Timo Schulz, Karl-Markus Sei, Aleksandar Tomov and Mattia Zanin also form part of the talent-packed Junior ERC entry.

And here are some more Rally Islas Canarias talking points:  

Pardo primed: Javier Pardo will be armed with an RGT-specification Alpine A110 for Rally Islas Canarias. The Spaniard was runner-up in the 2022 ERC standings after claiming the ERC2 title the previous year.  

Two go for ERC3 glory: Igor Widłak, the 2022 champion, and teenage talent Kerem Kazaz will face-off for ERC3 honours in their Ford Fiesta Rally3s.  

Neubauer returns: Hermann Neubauer, whose major honours include two Austrian titles, is set to start his first ERC event since Barum Czech Rally Zlín in 2018. ERC regulars featuring on the Rally Islas Canarias entry list include Philip Allen, Giacomo Costenaro and Martin László. 

Six appeals: For Albert von Thurn und Taxis (above), this year’s Rally Islas Canarias will mark his sixth appearance on the event and his second outing with new co-driver Frank Christian, who guided Fabian Kreim to third overall on Rally Islas Canarias in 2018.  

Fast females: Cristiana Oprea, Aoife Raftery and Ekaterina Stratieva will be in the mix for ERC4 points with Raftery also aiming to build on her impressive V-Híd Rally Hungary showing when she scored a career-best fourth in Junior ERC for the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy. 

Rally Islas Canarias Entry List

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