The eighth round of the FIA European Rally Championship is taking place in the Canary Islands. The final round of the series will run from 18 to 20 November. Despite the delayed start of the season and a number of postponements, all the planned competitions in the European countries were held. Unfortunately, due to overlapping dates of events in the calendars of the two largest sports series, some of the regular participants are absent from those starting in the Canaries for various reasons. However, there are 50 crews in the entry list, because the rally in the Canary Islands is also a round of the Spanish National Rally Championship (Súper Campeonato de España de Rally). The Russians are supported by Citroën Racing, Pirelli and Coolstream behind the wheel of a Citroen C3 Rally2; its technical condition is the responsibility of the Saintéloc Junior Team.
Since the winner of the 2021 FIA European Rally Championship among the first drivers was determined ahead of schedule, the focus of attention in the battle in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria will go to three drivers who will compete with each other for the second and third position: Miko Marczyk (135 points), Efren Llarena (121 points) and Alexey Lukyanuk (95 points). Moreover, the co-drivers of the Pole and the Spaniard will have to find out who will become the absolute champion among the co-drivers.
The competition will be held in a three-day format, but technically Friday and Saturday are set to determine the fastest crews on asphalt mountain spiral roads. A shakedown, a qualifying special stage, a ceremony for choosing starting positions on the first competition day and a solemn passage through the starting podium with the presentation of the crews to the fans took place on Thursday that was also included in the rally route. These events were preceded by test work with the team to set-up the car for the island driving conditions.
Alexey Lukyanuk and Alexey Arnautov qualified with the second result. Later Lucas chose the 10th starting position in the order of crews going to the first day stages. As the qualification showed, the fast Spaniards took an active part in the struggle for places in the top ten – they are ready to get on the nerves of the European favorites to the greater joy of the rally fans, who were allowed to the special stages and spectator areas this year. However, Lukyanuk and Arnautov are not newcomers to the Spanish asphalt and know the taste of victories in the Rally Islas Canarias; this duo became the overall winner of the competition three times in a row from 2016 to 2018.
Alexey Lukyanuk, driver, “We are in the Canaries! This is one of our favorite races: we won three times here. There were also not the best moments in the last couple of years, nevertheless, the roads remain the same here, the weather is expected to be good, so the spirits are high!
We did a good job during the tests. The interesting thing is that we have the same special stage for the third time in a row and the time that we compare from year to year remains unchanged. This time we were looking for an opportunity to set the car so as to drive as comfortable as possible with the same speed without an unnecessary rush. Let’s see how it will work during the rally.
Last year the rally was held in the midst of all the restrictions, now spectators have been allowed to attend the special stages. So, the local fans should give the dynamics to this rally a little bit. We invite you to watch and cheer for us!”
On Friday the organizers offer the crews to cover a little bit more than half of the competitive distance – 106.4 kilometers is the total length of nine special stages out of the planned 17. Drivers will rush into battle at the SS Valsequillo (11.91 km) from 10:22 local time, followed by San Mateo (13.78 km), Tejeda (13.68 km) and Santa Lucía (13.07 km). Participants will pass this loop of special stages twice, with a break for daily service and refueling. And in the evening the city super-special stage along the streets of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria will complete the first day.
The decisive Saturday consists of double passes of the special stages Arucas (7.18 km), Moya (12.96 km) and Valleseco (14.56 km). In addition, each section of the rally will be completed with its own unique version of the Telde special stage – Telde Tradición del Motor (10.39 km) and Telde Ciudad Deportiva (11.07 km).
The express award ceremony for the rally winners will take place on the podium at 17h15, and the winners of the season will be announced after the classification is published at 19h45.