The European Rally Championship (ERC) island hops to the next Atlantic Island chain for Rally Islas Canarias.
After an action packed Azores Airlines Rallye, Rally Islas Canarias is the first of the four all-tarmac rallies of the season and has managed to attract a huge entry list.
68 crews, including 27 in top-of-the-range R5 cars, will tackle the tight, twisting smooth tarmac roads built onto the side of the volcanic islands.
Running for the 41st time this season, new stages include the opening 25.13 kilometres of San Mateo, plus the street stage in host city Las Palmas, which rounds out leg one’s competitive action.
Amongst the crews taking part are Azores winner and championship leader Bruno Magalhães, last year’s winner Alexey Lukyanuk and last year’s ERC champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz.
Magalhães comes off the back of a surprise victory on his home rally, his first event in a Skoda Fabia R5, and has managed to find the funds to tackle another round.
While not competing for the main championship, the Portuguese ace is happy to back out on the stages after having stepped back from full-time competition due to funding issues.
He comes into the rally in another hired Fabia R5 with no pressure, but big motivation to get another great result.
However, Lukyanuk and Kajetanowicz come into the event with big pressures as the top two in last year’s championship failed to pick up any points in the Azores.
Last year the two Ford Fiesta R5 runners finished first and second on last year’s event and along with Magalhães and Bryan Bouffier, they are amongst the favourites for ERC victory.
The Rally is also the second round of the newly restructured ERC Junior Championship and the leaders in the Junior U27 and U28 category are both present.
Chris Ingram was the winner of the ERC Junior U27 Championship for two wheel drive cars, in the Azores,
He finishing a very creditable eleventh overall in his two-wheel drive Opel Adam R2, a full 18 minutes ahead of his nearest class rival and ahead of no least seven four-wheel drive R5 cars.
Ingram hopes to extend his lead at the end of the event, but will face stiff competition from Opel team-mates Jari Huttunen and Aleksander Zawada, as well as UK works Peugeot driver Catie Munnings competing for the Saintéloc Junior Team Peugeot 208 R2.
The ERC U28 Championship is open to R5 specification machinery and also likely to challenge for overall honours.
The category winner in the Azores, Skoda’s Marijan Griebel finished second overall on that event and is one of the favourites for category honours in the Canaries.
Yet he will face the young Spanish chargers of José Antonio Suárez and José María López Planelles from the Peugeot Sport Academy team.
Griebel and Suarez were locked in a close battle for much of the rally in Azore until the Peugeot’s retirement allowed Griebel to cruise to a comfy win.
Now Suarez and the team will be looking for revenge on their home event.
Follow the event on May 4-6 with daily updates on The Checkered Flag.