Strong line-up for Rally Islas Canarias

Rally Mexico is over, and as the WRC machine winds down for a bit to take a bit of rest, Formula 1 is upon us (if you care about that sort of thing), but rally community will be more interested in the week after that. Round three of the FIA European Rally Championship starts on spectacular stages of Canary Islands.

This year, Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Ingles promises to be a true show – not only are the stages very unique, but we can again hope for top class TV coverage, regular Twitter, Facebook and web updates and best of all, very strong line-up.

According to the official preview, 10 crews in total will compete in Super 2000 and Regional Rally Car machines. Robert Kubica will make his return to proper top-class rally championship, driving specially prepared Citroën DS3 RRC – it will be very interesting to see how fast can he adapt to new car, and how competitive he can be compared to the rest of the crews.

Official preview & list of entries follows.

The 2013 FIA European Rally Championship will step up a gear next week when a star-studded line-up of ERC regulars heads to Gran Canaria for Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés.

Seventeen of the 30 crews on the quality entry list for the international section of the rally, which takes place on challenging and spectacular asphalt stages from 21-23 March, are from the ERC.

After two exciting rallies in Austria and Latvia, the trip to the Spanish island marks the first time that a significant number of ERC regulars will be in action on the same event.

“We are delighted so many of our regular drivers will be making the trip to Gran Canaria,” said François Ribeiro, Motorsport Development Director, Eurosport Events. “We’ve had two great events in Austria and Latvia but Rally Islas Canarias is really where our season starts in terms of the fact a large number of ERC regulars will all be competing together.”

Since Eurosport Events became the promoter of the ERC under a 10-year agreement with the FIA – motorsport’s world governing body – at the start of the year, strenuous efforts have been made to attract a strong representation of regular ERC drivers and teams on each round under the championship’s strapline, Serious Competition Ahead.

“Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés is a perfect example of this work and there is every indication the entry lists will grow stronger and stronger on each of the upcoming rounds,” added Ribeiro.

Ten of the best for flagship class

Ten crews will contest the headlining Super 2000 and Regional Rally Car class with six S2000s and four RRCs in action. With the exception of local hero Luis Monzón, who will line up in a MINI John Cooper Works RRC, all are regulars in the ERC.

Jan Kopecký, the winner of the opening ERC round in a ŠKODA Motorsport Fabia S2000, heads the entry from Peugeot Rally Academy’s Craig Breen (207 S2000) and Formula One race winner Robert Kubica, who makes his ERC debut in a Citroën DS3 RRC as the fifth seed. Other highlights include Jérémi Ancian, Daniel Oliveira, Janós Puskádi and Antonín Tlusťák, who represents the GPD Mit Metal Racing Team, currently first in the ERC Teams’ Championship classification.

Showroom showcase in Gran Canaria

The FIA Production Car Cup for N4 cars has attracted six entries including Andreas Aigner (Subaru Impreza R4 STI) and Team Renault Sport Technologies duo Germain Bonnefis and Robert Consani (both Mégane Renaultsport N4s).

Two-wheel titans and leading ladies ready for action

Island regulars Enrique García Ojeda and Joan Vinyes are the top seeds for FIA ERC 2WD Championship honours where series’ frontrunners Zoltán Bessenyey (Eurosol-Honda Civic Type R) and Hermann Neubauer will provide strong opposition. Ekaterina Stratieva, the top-scoring female in last year’s ERC, will do battle with Emma Falcón for the new FIA ERC Ladies’ Trophy.

The build-up begins

Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés features 14 stages over a competitive distance of 246.34 kilometres. Following the ceremonial start in Las Palmas at 20:30hrs local time on Thursday 21 March, the action begins with the 13.57-kilometre Moya stage at 07:48hrs on Friday 22 March and finishes with the 16.23-kilometre Vallesco stage, which gets underway at 16:12hrs on Saturday 23 March. Extensive coverage of the event will be shown on Eurosport and Eurosport Player. To view the entry list click here.