Spanish rally outfit Rallye Team Spain had a great weekend at the FIA European Rally Championship season-opener, Rally di Roma Capitale.
Reigning ERC3 Junior champion Efrén Llarena has stepped up to the ERC1 Junior class for this season in a Citroën C3 Rally2, and used the Italian season opener to gain experience for the rest of the year, with the Spaniard claiming a podium finish on his class debut.
“For us it was a very good rally,” Llarena enthused. “We tried our best. We know at the moment we don’t have enough pace to fight because we don’t have the experience but we knew that if we were constant and if we were at 90 per cent in all the stages then we can be at the finish in a good position and it was exactly like this. We were 90 per cent always and I am very happy.
“The team did a good work and Sara also my co-driver. It was our first time and we need to improve but we have time to improve.
Llarena tried several different setups throughout the weekend, starting with a softer combination on Saturday before a change of tactics saw him try a stiffer setup on day two.
“On Saturday we did an easy set-up because it was the first kilometres with the car in a race and I tried to put a soft car, easy to drive. But for the second day I put hard springs, hard anti-roll bars like a circuit car and it worked very well.” Llarena said.
2019 RFEDA’s Beca Júnior R2 champion Pep Bassas meanwhile, who graduated to ERC3 Junior ahead of the season opener, finished second in the class in a brand-new Peugeot 208 Rally4.
“It’s a good result and it’s a good day,” explained Bassas after the end of the final stage on Sunday.
“On the first day we had the complication on the first stage with the puncture but the other stages were okay and the pace was okay. We also had a good pace on the second day and we keep pushing but the final loop was a bit slower because it’s important to have good points for the championship.”
Bassas made the most of a costly mistake by class leader at the time Pedro Antunes, who crashed out of the event on the final stage to move into second in class.