Friday, 19 November 2021 22:15

The first leg of the Rally Islas Canarias closes with Lukyanuk-Arnautov in the leading role

Not even a 10 seconds sanction dented the superiority of the Russian Citroën team in the first nine from the 17-stages-itinerary of this last rally of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) and next-to-last of the Spanish Super Rally Championship (S-CER) and the Canarian Rally Championship on Asphalt. Enrique Cruz and Yeray Mujica revealed as the big surprise of this opening leg as they moved into the third position in the international rally, second in the S-CER and an outstanding lead in the Canarian regional. Llarena and Fernández, who placed 2nd in the absolute ranking, are at the head at national level.

The 45th edition of the Rally Islas Canarias began with the first of its two legs taking place throughout an intense day with nine special stages and ended with the super special city stage in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which confirmed – if there was any need to – the leadership of Alexey Lukyanuk and Alexey Arnautov (Citroën C3 Rally2).

Whereas the stages ‘Valsequillo’ (11.91 km), ‘San Mateo-DISA’ (13.78 km), ‘Tejeda’ (13.68 km) and ‘Santa Lucía’ (13.07 km) took place with excellent weather in the morning, the rain added an extra dose of difficulty in the afternoon. Irrespective of the weather conditions, Lukyanuk-Arnautov were the fastest team in the first eight stages. Still carrying a 10'' sanction from the first section, the Russian couple, who bears two ERC titles and three victories in the Rally Islas Canarias, finished the day with more than half a minute advantage.

With ‘The Russian Rocket’ at another level, the difference among the others is very tight. Efrén Llarena-Sara Fernández (Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo) has been losing ground in relation to the Canarian team Enrique Cruz-Yeray Mujica (Ford Fiesta Rally2), who performed an outstanding third place in this last rally of the the FIA ERC and, at the same time, held a tight fight for the victory in the S-CER. Llarena and Cruz finished the first leg 32.6'' behind.

The podium in this last ERC Rally is very much exciting with five teams placing within 10 seconds. Simone Campedelli-Tania Canton (Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo), Mikko Marczyk-Szymon Gospodarczyk (Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo) and Yoann Bonato-Benjamin Boulloud (Citroën C3 Rally2) – who achieved the scratch in the super special stage in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria – are close behind Llarena-Fernández and Cruz-Mujica after the application of several sanctions, which altered the ranking in some of its first places.

In the ERC3 and ERC3 Junior the teams entered are the same. Anthony Fotia-Arnaud Dunand (Renault Clio Rally4) placed themselves ahead of their brand colleagues Jean-Baptiste Franceschi-Anthony Gorguilo (Renault Clio Rally4), but with very close gaps between them. Sami Pajari-Marko Salminen (Ford Fiesta Rally4) finished the leg in 3rd place while cutting down the distance to the French team. Joan Vinyes-Jordi Mercader (Suzuki Swift R4LLY S) lead in the ERC2 with more than one minute and a half ahead of the only survivors of the Abarth Rally Cup, Carlos David García-Nazer Ghuneim, and with Javier Pardo-Adrián Pérez being 3rd climbing positions after having had some trouble this morning.

The 8th stage, the second crossing through ‘Santa Lucía’, had to be cancelled out as the Peugeot 208 Rally4 from Fernando Cruz-Ariday Bonilla went off the road.

Tomorrow the teams will still have to complete another 8 special stages – ‘Arucas’ (7.18 km), ‘Moya’ (12.96 km), ‘Valleseco’ (14.56 km) and ‘Telde Tradición del Motor’ (10.39 km) in the 4th section and Arucas’ (7.18 km), ‘Moya’ (12.96 km), ‘Valleseco’ (14.56 km) and ‘Telde Ciudad Deportiva’ (11.07 km).

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