What: 2021 FIA European Rally Championship round 8 of 8*
When: November 18-20
Where: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Stage distance: 197.27 kilometres
Liaison distance: 371.06 kilometres
Total distance: 568.33 kilometres
ERC appearances (since 2004 restructuring): 6 (2013, 2016-2020)
*Also counting for: ERC1, ERC2, ERC3, ERC Junior, ERC3 Junior, European Rally Championship for Teams, Abarth Rally Cup
2020: Adrien Fourmaux/Renaud Jamoul (Ford Fiesta R5 MkII)
2019: Pepe López/Borja Rozada (Citroën C3 R5)
2018: Alexey Lukyanuk/Alexey Arnautov (Ford Fiesta R5)
2017: Alexey Lukyanuk/Alexey Arnautov (Ford Fiesta R5)
2016: Alexey Lukyanuk/Alexey Arnautov (Ford Fiesta R5)
The rally in 100 words:
With the stages climbing and descending at a frequent rate, drivers pay close attention to corner speed and lines to ensure optimal momentum is maintained, while precise car set-up and pacenote accuracy are also vital. One of the notable features of the sealed stages is the abrasive surface, constructed partly from volcanic lava. It means grip levels are high and remain 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 relatively debris-free. The 2021 ERC season finale doubles as this challenging rally’s 45th edition.
The route in short:
While a number of stage names and locations will be familiar to many, extensive tweaks for the 45th running of Rally Islas Canarias make for a significantly overhauled route with the Telde Free Practice and Qualifying Stage also new for 2021.
The opening leg on Friday November 19 features twin visits to Valsequillo (11.91 kilometres), San Mateo (13.86 kilometres), Tejeda (13.66 kilometres) and Santa Lucía (12.94 kilometres), plus one run through the 1.53-kilometre Las Palmas de Gran Canaria street stage, which rounds out the first day’s action.
Saturday’s deciding leg consists of two visits to Arucas (7.18 kilometres), Moya (12.96 kilometres) and Valleseco (14.56 kilometres), while there are two versions of the Telde stage – Telde Tradición del Motor (10.39 kilometres) and Telde Ciudad Deportiva (11.11 kilometres).
On Friday, the first run through Valsequillo (SS1) and the second pass of Santa Lucía (SS8) will be shown live on Facebook and YouTube. On Saturday, Valleseco 1 (SS12) and Telde Ciudad Deportiva (SS17) will be streamed as they happen on Facebook and YouTube.
It’s all to play for when Rally Islas Canarias hosts the deciding round of the 2021 FIA European Rally Championship from November 18-20 – and the final ERC event promoted by Discovery Sports Events (previously Eurosport Events) before the baton is handed over to WRC Promoter from next season.
After seven all-action rounds, an abundance of FIA titles are still up for grabs on the Tarmac-only event, which has been a mainstay of the ERC for several seasons and is also a round of Spanish federation RFEDA’s S-CER Supercampeonato.
To befit the occasion, event organiser Club Deportivo Todo Sport has attracted a 72-strong entry of which 52 crews will contest the main international rally, with 37 crews eligible to chase ERC points.
Miko Marczyk, the number one seed, and Efrén Llarena, the ERC3/ERC3 Junior champion from 2019, are locked in combat to finish runner-up to provisional champion Andreas Mikkelsen in the overall classification. Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo drivers and members of the ERC-MICHELIN Talent Factory, double Polish champion Marczyk and Rallye Team Spain-supported Llarena are two of international rallying’s brightest prospects.
They will bid to follow in the wheel tracks of World Rally Championship star Adrien Fourmaux, last year’s Rally Islas Canarias winner, while their respective co-drivers Szymon Gospodarczyk and Sara Fernández are in contention to win the FIA European Rally Championship for Co-Drivers.
Javier Pardo is in a fight with Dmitry Feofanov for the ERC2 crown in their Rally2 Kit-specification Suzuki Swifts, while Peugeot 208 Rally4-powered Pep Bassas has made beating current leader Jean-Baptiste Franceschi(Renault Clio Rally4) to ERC3 glory his sole focus. Franceschi, meanwhile, has ground to make up if he’s to deny Sami Pajari (Ford Fiesta Rally4) the ERC3 Junior title and the ERC Junior prize drive chance in 2022 at the wheel of a Pirelli-equipped Fiesta Rally3 run by M-Sport Poland.
Ken Torn will use Rally Islas Canarias to celebrate becoming provisional ERC Junior champion as he looks ahead to a prize drive in the 2022 FIA Junior WRC in a Fiesta Rally3 on Pirelli tyres. With an unassailable advantage in the Abarth Rally Cup, Dariusz Poloński is chasing ERC2 points on Rally Islas Canarias at the wheel of a Pirelli-equipped Abarth 124 rally. The FIA European Rally Championship for Teams was decided in Toksport WRT’s favour on Rally Hungary.
Having missed the Hungarian event due to funding issues, Alexey Lukyanuk, the 2018 and 2020 ERC champion, returns to action at the wheel of his regular Citroën C3 Rally2. The Russian is in contention to win Rally Islas Canarias for a fourth time, a result that would put him one behind the legendary Carlos Sainz as the event’s most successful driver.
With examples of Rally2, Rally3, Rally4 and Rally5 cars – plus Rally2 Kit machinery – appearing on the packed entry list, Rally Islas Canarias highlights the important contribution the ERC makes in showcasing the FIA Rally Cars Pyramid and the path of progression it provides drivers aiming for the top of the sport having stepped up from national level. And while the ERC’s focus remains on providing a clear path of progression for drivers aiming for the top of the sport, it continues to be open to all-comers with a vast array of age and experience.
Administered by the FIA, the ERC is the established step-up series to the FIA World Rally Championship and is backed by a global broadcast package, which includes extensive coverage on the various Eurosport platforms. Four stages on each round of the ERC are streamed live on Facebook and YouTube, while ERC Radio is on-air from all events.
WHO CAN WIN WHAT AND HOW IN THE ERC?
Here’s a summary of who can win what and how on the season-deciding Rally Islas Canarias. But first a refresher on how points are scored in the FIA European Rally Championship:
*On all rounds of the ERC, points are allocated to the top 15 classified finishers as follows: 1st= 30 points; 2= 24; 3= 21; 4= 19; 5= 17; 6= 15; 7= 13; 8= 11; 9= 9; 10= 7; 11= 5; 12= 4; 13= 3; 14= 2; 15= 1
*Bonus points are allocated to the top five finishers in each category at the end of each leg as follows: 1st= 5 points; 2= 4; 3= 3; 4= 2; 5= 1
*Drivers count their best seven scores from eight (best five from six in ERC Junior and ERC3 Junior).
*Škoda-powered Toksport WRT driver Andreas Mikkelsen is the provisional champion and cannot be caught in the title race. However, Miko Marczyk, Efrén Llarena and Alexey Lukyanuk remain in contention for the runner-up spot behind the ace Norwegian.
*If Llarena scores 15 points, Marczyk needs to score at least 3 points less than his Spanish rival. Should Russian Lukyanuk win Rally Islas Canarias then Marczyk, from Poland, needs to score at least 11 points.
*To finish second, Llarena needs to score at least 15 points and at least 2 more than Marczyk.
*Lukyanuk needs to score 40 points, the maximum available, to finish runner-up and hope Marczyk does not score more than 10 points with Llarena scoring no more than 14 points.
*Third place is between the absent Norbert Herczig, Marczyk, Llarena and Lukyanuk.
*To be crowned champion co-driver, Szymon Gospodarczyk needs to score at least 3 points less than Llarena in case Llarena scores at least 15 points.
*Sara Fernández needs to score at least 15 points and at least 2 more than Marczyk.
*Only Gospodarczyk or Fernández can finish second. Elliott Edmondson, who won’t be competing, will finish third if Alexey Arnautov does not claim more than 25 points alongside his driver Lukyanuk. However, if the Russians score more than 25 points Arnautov will finish third in the final order.
*Spaniard Javier Pardo will be champion if Latvia-based Dmitry Feofanov fails to score more than 25 points than the Suzuki Motor Ibérica driver. Only Pardo or Feofanov can finish second.
*Poland’s Dariusz Poloński will be third if he scores 2 points or less than Andorran Joan Vinyes and no less than 4 points compared to Frenchman Victor Cartier
*Vinyes will be third if he scores 1 point or more than Poloński and no less than 3 points less than Cartier, who is not able to take part for financial reasons.
*The co-drivers’ title fight mirrors the drivers’ battle.
*Jean-Baptiste Franceschi will be champion for Toksport WRT unless Pep Bassas out-scores him by 29 points. However, a Bassas win would make him champion and leave Franceschi in the runner-up spot.
*Providing his total is 37 points more than Finland’s Sami Pajari, Spaniard Bassas will finish second. Only Bassas and Pajari can place third.
*The co-drivers’ title is between Anthony Gorguilo and Axel Coronado, while Marko Salminen, Hugo Magalhães and Dávid Berendi will battle for third place.
FIA ERC3 JUNIOR:
*Jean-Baptiste Franceschi needs to better Sami Pajari’s total by 13 points to stop the Finn from adding the European Junior title to his World Junior crown.
*However, providing he scores at least 21 points and eight more than Franceschi, Pajari will take the Pirelli-supported title and a full season of ERC Junior action in 2022 at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta Rally3 from M-Sport Poland.
*Only drivers competing in Ford Fiesta Rally4s are eligible for the full ERC Junior drive in 2022. That means Renault Clio Rally4 driver Franceshi’s prize package will total three events should he take the title.
*Nick Loof, Martin László and Alejandro Cachón are in the fight for third place. Norbert Maior’s non-participation on Rally Islas Canarias rules him out of the battle.
*Ken Torn is the provisional ERC Junior champion for 2021 having taken the ERC3 Junior title in 2020.
YOUNG STAR MARCZYK TO USE ERC-MICHELIN TALENT FACTORY TOP PRIZE ON RALLY ISLAS CANARIAS
ORLEN Team’s Polish star Miko Marczyk, 26, will contest Rally Islas Canarias with a full tyre allocation from MICHELIN as his prize for being ranked as the top ERC-MICHELIN Talent Factory member after six rounds of the 2021 FIA European Rally Championship. New for this season, the ERC-MICHELIN Talent Factory recognises the achievements of registered ERC drivers aged 28 and under at the start of 2021 competing in the championship in Rally2 cars on MICHELIN tyres. On rounds one to six, the ERC-MICHELIN Talent Factory provided a number of incentives, not least the chance to win the full tyre allocation for the final two events of the ERC season. As well as discounted tyre prices, a number of promotional opportunities, such as access to video footage and inclusion in clips on the ERC’s social media channels, the top three ERC-MICHELIN Talent Factory members after Rally Serras de Fafe e Felgueiras will enjoy a VIP visit to MICHELIN’s Clermont-Ferrand headquarters in France. CLICK FOR PRESS RELEASE.
P1 RACING FUELS PODIUM CHALLENGE REWARDS ERC DRIVERS
The P1 Racing Fuels Podium Challenge continues in 2021 and rewards the top three finishes in ERC1 and ERC2 on each round with fuel vouchers that can be exchanged for P1 XR5 race fuel at subsequent events, helping competitors to further reduce the cost of competing. Across both categories, the winning drivers receive 150 litres of fuel, while the second and third placed drivers receive 100L and 50L respectively. Click HERE for more information.
RALLY ISLAS CANARIAS TALKING POINTS
Second in the provisional standings, ORLEN Team’s Miko Marczyk is the number one seed in ERC champion* Andreas Mikkelsen’s absence. He was ninth on his Rally Islas Canarias debut last season and finished an ERC career-best second on Rally Hungary last month.
*With a 14-point margin over Rallye Team Spain’s Efrén Llarena in the battle for the runner-up spot, Marczyk appears to be in the ascendancy. However, the double Polish champion must still drop his lowest score, which gives hope to Llarena, who has no score to drop, heading to his home event.
*Free from the pressures of challenging for a third ERC title, Alexey Lukyanuk is in contention to win Rally Islas Canarias for a fourth time, a result that would put him one behind the legendary Carlos Sainz as the event’s most successful driver.
*Nil Solans led on his ERC debut on what was also his first Rally Islas Canarias start last season and returns to his home round of the European championship in a Team MRF Tyres Hyundai i20 R5. His younger brother Jan Solans (Citroën C3 Rally2), the 2019 Junior WRC champion, is also in action but with success in the Supercampeonato his priority.
*Since adding to his ERC scoring tally with eighth place on Rally Hungary last month, CHL Sport Auto Citroën C3 Rally2 driver Yoann Bonato, who finished runner-up on Rally Islas Canarias last season, took victory on the French Tarmac championship-counting Critérium des Cévennes to enforce his sealed-surface pedigree.
*Simone Campedelli gets his first outing on asphalt in his Team MRF Tyres-entered Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo for his Rally Islas Canarias debut. Spaniard Luis Vilariño took part on Rally Islas Canarias last season as a prelude to an ERC campaign in 2021.
*Iván Ares finished on the Rally Islas Canarias podium in 2020 and will be expected to be in the top-three fight again this year.
*Four Canary Islanders will be in action on the ERC season closer. Enrique Cruz, the reigning Canary Islands’ champion and four-time winner in 2021, goes up against the ERC regulars in his Ford Fiesta Rally2 having placed P15 overall on Rally Islas Canarias last November. Luis Monzón, who is in his first season competing in a Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo, has won Rally Islas Canarias three times in the past, while Yeray Lemes makes his debut in the all-new Hyundai i20 N Rally2 and is a contender for a top-10 finish. Former ERC Ladies’ Trophy winner Emma Falcón is contesting her home round of the ERC in a Citroën C3 Rally2.
*Surhayén Pernía scored ERC points on his last Rally Islas Canarias appearance in 2020 and took a fine victory on the last Supercampeonato round, while Albert von Thurn und Taxis, a former GT racer turned ERC regular, starts the event for a fifth time.
*Argentina’s Juan Carlos Alonso, the 2019 ERC2 champion, makes his long-awaited return to European competition as Daniel Chwist and Jarosław Kołtun prepare to fly the Polish flag.
*Javier Pardo heads to Rally Islas Canarias with the ERC2 title his for the taking on the back of five consecutive class victories for Suzuki Motor Ibérica. Dmitry Feofanov can stop his fellow Suzuki Swift Rally2 Kit driver from taking the crown but needs a big points swing to do so.
*Having secured the Abarth Rally Cup at his third attempt, Dariusz Poloński is gunning for third place in the final ERC2 order but will face strong opposition from Pardo’s team-mate, Joan Vinyes. The Andorran has considerable Rally Islas Canarias experience and pedigree and will provide strong opposition.
*Three-time ERC2 champion Tibor Érdi Jr is aiming to finish his 2021 campaign on a high by switching from his regular Mitsubishi Lancer to a Proracing Engineering-built Škoda Fabia R4 Rally2 Kit. Ukrainian Serhii Potiiko is entered in a second Proracing Fabia R4.
*Carlos David García completes the ERC2 entry in an Abarth 124 rally for his first ERC start since Rally Islas Canarias in 2019.
*Title chasers Jean-Baptiste Franceschi (Toksport WRT Renault Clio Rally4) and Rallye Team Spain-supported Pep Bassas (The Racing Factory Peugeot 208 Rally4) head the ERC3 line-up ahead of current ERC3 Junior leader Sami Pajari (Porvoon Autopalvelu Ford Fiesta Rally4). While Bassas and Franceschi have previous Rally Islas Canarias experience to count on, the event is all-new for Finn Pajari.
*Hungary’s Martin László, German Nick Loof and Rallye Team Spain’s Alejandro Cachón start Rally Islas Canarias battling for third place the final ERC3 Junior ranking.
*Argentine Paulo Soria steps up to a Renault Clio Rally4 having finished runner-up to Andrea Mabellini in the inaugural Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT for the Clio Rally5. With regular co-driver Marcelo Der Ohannesiancontesting ACI Rally Monza in Italy, Soria has recruited Romanian Sergiu Itu to stand in.
*Having impressed on his ERC3 Junior debut on Rally Hungary, Frenchman Anthony Fotia gets a second chance in a CHL Sport Auto-run Clio Rally4.
*Jorge Cagiao, who made his ERC debut on Rally Islas Canarias last season, returns in a Clio Rally4, while Zósimo Hernández make his first appearance in the championship in a Peugeot 208 Rally4.
*Multiple ERC Ladies’ Trophy winner Ekaterina Stratieva from Bulgaria will chase ERC3 points.
ERC Q&A: NIL SOLANS
Having led on his FIA European Rally Championship debut – and his first Rally Islas Canarias start – last season, Nil Solans will be a contender for a top finish in his Team MRF Tyres-entered Hyundai i20 R5. This is what the speedy Spaniard has said ahead of his home round of the ERC.
Looking ahead to Rally Islas Canarias, how would you assess the event and the challenge in store?
“There are many changes with only one stage unchanged from last year so it’s really a new rally for me. But that’s good and the driving style of these roads is similar to what we have in [mainland] Spain. It will be good for us, MRF has a new tyre and are developing all the time and the tyre looks to be really nice.”
You mentioned your driving style, can you describe what that is?
“It’s a rally more like a circuit, even though I am not used to driving on circuits! There is a lot of wide Tarmac with two lanes so it’s amazing and easy to drive for me. My pacenotes are very representative for these kinds of roads and it’s clear for me to understand the speeds and what’s required.”
The grip level is often very high and consistent on Rally Islas Canarias because of the volcanic lava used in the formation of the roads. Is that something you experienced last year?
“It’s good and it’s easy to learn if the road will have a good grip or not and you can see with your eyes if it’s changing. I would say 90 per cent of the rally last year had good Tarmac and good grip and I expect the same this year.”
Last year’s wet conditions were in complete contrast to the warm and sunny weather usually experienced on Rally Islas Canarias. How difficult was it and how can your experience from 2020 help you this year?
“Everybody was telling me the rally is very difficult when it rains but, for me, it was very simple let’s say, probably because I am more used to these conditions on fast and smooth Tarmac. The forecast this year seems to be for sun but it’s an island and all the time you move around and go to the top of the mountain it’s changing so let’s see.”
Do you feel you have enough experience of your car to properly attack?
“In Canarias we will drive the old Hyundai i20 R5, not the new one, but we made a little test in Italy just to check the car and the new tyre compounds. I was really happy about the car and the tyres. Let’s see but it looks a good car and a nice car and I am sure we will be able to adapt to the car and the correct set-up on these types of roads.”
What’s your target for Rally Islas Canarias?
“Let’s see how it goes but for sure we will give 100 per cent from our side and try to do our best. If we can fight for the victory for sure we will fight but let’s go step by step. First of all we need to do a very good test on Monday to prepare the car.”
Your brother Jan is also doing the rally. What’s the rivalry like when you are competing and do you ever work together?
“We are always in touch and trying to improve together. Here we will drive on different tyres, in different cars so it’s not exactly the same situation. It will be good to compete against my brother but there is no competition inside. We enjoy the rallies and love to compete together in the Rally2 category in the European championship.”
RALLY ISLAS CANARIAS FIVE FACTS
1: Run for the first time in 1977 as Rally El Corte Inglés, Gran Canaria’s largest shopping centre and event sponsor, the rally became part of the Spanish championship in 1979.
2: Elevation to European championship coefficient 10 status followed in 1982 before it became a fully-fledged round in 2013. The rally has been ever-present on the ERC roster since 2016.
3: Renamed Rally de Canarias and relocated to the south of Gran Canaria for 2002, the event returned to Las Palmas in 2004. The Rally Islas Canarias title was adopted for 2009 ahead of a move to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge from 2010.
4: The rally boasts a number of prominent former winners including Didier Auriol, Piero Liatti and Carlos Sainz, who claimed five consecutive victories in the 1980s.
5: Islas Canarias comes from the Latin Insula Canaria, or Island of the Dogs, which were believed to be a type of monk seal, while a dish of choice in the Canary Islands is ropa vieja, made from chicken, beef, potatoes and beans.