Rally Islas Canarias replaces the Circuit of Ireland Rally on the ERC schedule for 2013. The asphalt stages use a mixture of narrow and fast undulating sections. The surface is abrasive meaning grip levels are high but tyre wear can be at a premium.
Citroen driver Robert Kubica has set the fastest time in this morning's Canaries Rally shakedown stage.
Kubica posted a time of 1m26.5s for the stage, with two-time event winner Jan Kopecky listed as six tenths of a second slower than the former grand prix winner.
The Polish driver tested his Citroen DS3 RRC in Gran Canaria on Monday and spent the morning finetuning the set-up of his car ahead of this evening's ceremonial start.
The Las Palmas-based event marks the former grand prix winner's return to international motorsport after he injured his right arm in a rally crash in February, 2011.
After his two-day pre-event test was cut to a morning after storms hit France last week, Kubica completed around 40 miles of running on Monday.
He spent more time in the car at shakedown, where he was reported to be just half a second off the pace of two-time Canaries winner Jan Kopecky.
Kubica's engineer Kevin Struyf said: "We are still discovering the car and the driving style for Robert. We made a good test on Monday and today we are making some set-up changes because this road is more like the road we find on the rally."
He added: "The feedback he is giving for the car and for the team is very, very good - this is what we expect because of his experience from the race track."
Robert Kubica has made a sensational start to Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés by going more than 11 seconds faster than his closest rival to win stage one of the FIA European Rally Championship counter.
Kubica, in a Citroën DS3 RRC, took 8m40.4s to complete the 13.57-kilometre stage, 11.4s quicker than Jan Kopecký, who is chasing a hat-trick of victories in his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000.
After setting his stunning time in wet conditions, the former grand prix winner Kubica said: “Everything is okay but it was a very difficult with very difficult conditions.”
Gran Canaria, which is hosting the 14-stage event, is better known for warm temperatures and bright sunshine but overnight rain has left the roads wet and slippery with the precipitation intensifying as the stage progressed.
“Two days are raining over here and today is one of them,” said Kopecký, who selected medium slick Michelins at the front and soft at the rear. “It’s interesting, something new. We had some understeer but I think everyone will have some problems.”
Jérémi Ancian spun his Peugeot Rally Academy 207 Super 2000 after 10 kilometres, while team-mate Craig Breen is running with a 10-second time penalty amid reports he started the stage one minute late.
Subaru Impreza driver Andreas Aigner was the fastest ERC Production Car Cup runner in fifth overall with Joan Vinyes setting the pace in the ERC 2WD Championship in a Suzuki Swift. ERC Ladies’ Trophy contender Ekaterina Stratieva suffered two spins in her Citroën.
After SS2: No glasses not helping Breen in Gran Canaria
Craig Breen’s efforts to make up time on Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés are not being helped after the Irishman revealed that he left his driving glasses in service in Las Palmas this morning.
The Peugeot Rally Academy ace was third fastest on stage one but lost more ground to the flying Robert Kubica on stage two, Artenara, after reporting that he was struggling to see in the fog and rain on round three of the FIA European Rally Championship. “Silly me because I left my glasses in service,” he said, after completing the 21.18-kilometre test 22.7s slower than Kubica.
Meanwhile, ex-Formula One racer Kubica, in a Citroën DS3 RRC, now leads Jan Kopecký by 37.6s following his second consecutive stage best. ŠKODA driver Kopecký said his car is being plagued by understeer in the slippery conditions.
Daniel Oliveira dropped approximately 30s after spinning his Brazil World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RRC. Stage three, the 14.31 kilometres of Tejeda, goes live at 09:09hrs local time.
After SS3: Kubica in control after dramatic morning loop
Formula One race winner Robert Kubica will head to the mid-morning halt in Las Palmas leading round three of the FIA European Rally Championship by 38.4s following a stunning start Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés.
Polish star Kubica, making his ERC debut in a Citroën DS3 RRC, has been fastest on all three stages this morning, which have been subjected to fog and rain as unseasonal weather struck the island of Gran Canaria overnight.
Behind second-placed ŠKODA driver Jan Kopecký, Craig Breen is third in a Peugeot Rally Academy 207 Super 2000, 15.2s adrift of the Czech, a two-time Rally Islas Canarias winner. Breen said his pace had been slowed after he left service this morning without his driving glasses.
Local hero Luis Monzón is fourth in a MINI John Cooper Works RRC with Jérémi Ancian a strong fifth on his debut in a 207 S2000 despite a spin on the rain-hit opening stage.
Andreas Aigner leads the ERC Production Cup standings in sixth overall in a Subaru Impreza. Joan Vinyes tops the ERC 2WD Championship for Suzuki with Ekaterina Stratieva the top ERC Ladies’ Trophy competitor.
Crews are now heading to Las Palmas for a regroup and service halt. Stage four, the repeat of the 13.57-kilometre Moya test, goes live at 12:17hrs local time.
Robert Kubica continues to impress on his FIA European Rally Championship debut by going fastest on stage four of Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés.
In damp conditions, Kubica was 6.3s quicker than Craig Breen to grow his overall advantage to 45.5s ahead of Jan Kopecký, who was third fastest.
Despite his performance – his fourth fastest stage time of the event – Kubica said he wasn’t entirely happy: “This stage was not good for us. I thought there would be much more water and the tyres were too soft for the conditions we have now.”
Craig Breen, running three places ahead of Kubica on the road, elected not to insert grip-aiding ‘cuts’ into the Michelin tyres fitted to his Peugeot 207 Super 2000, which the Irishman suggested had been the wrong decision. “I had no cuts and in the standing water it was quite hairy,” he said.
Subaru driver Andreas Aigner set the pace in the ERC Production Car Cup with Joan Vinyes doing likewise in the ERC 2WD Championship section.
After SS5: Ancian up to fourth as puncture slows Monzón
Jérémi Ancian isn’t letting the fact he’s competing in a Super 2000 car for the first time slow him down on Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés after he moved ahead of local hero Luis Monzón into fourth overall.
Ancian, who is tackling six rounds of this year’s FIA European Rally Championship with the Peugeot Rally Academy, took advantage when Monzón picked up a puncture in his MINI John Cooper Works RRC on the 21.18-kilometre Artenara test.
Out front, Robert Kubica continued his sequence of stage wins by topping the times ahead of Craig Breen and Jan Kopecký. Kubica was 8.1s quicker than Breen and leads Kopecký overall by 57.7s. Breen is 10.3s behind Kopecký heading to stage six, Tejeda.
Robert Kubica has made it six fastest stage times out of six to take a lead of more than one minute to the upcoming service halt in Las Palmas.
Piloting a Citroën DS3 RRC alongside fellow Pole and co-driver Maciek Baran, Kubica took 8m51.2s to complete the 14.31 kilometres of Tejeda.
He was 5.7s quicker than two-time event winner Jan Kopecký and is now 1m03.4s ahead of the Czech in the battle for victory on Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés, round three of the FIA European Rally Championship.
“This loop was tricky because the stages were drying up a lot and we did not have quite the right tyres for the conditions,” said Kubica. “The last stage was very tricky and I was driving intermediate tyres on one corner and slicks on the other but everything is good and it’s getting better with the car and the pacenotes.”
Kopecký’s ŠKODA Fabia is sporting minor damage to the bonnet following a collision with a motorist on a road section. “There was a small problem when one guy stopped suddenly in front of me but it’s okay,” he explained.
Elsewhere, Brazil World Rally Team’s Daniel Oliveira completed the stage with his Ford Fiesta RRC stuck in fourth gear, while Luis Monzón said he lost 20s in his MINI.
Following a 45-minute regroup and a 30-minute service halt in Las Palmas, the action continues with the 25.82-kilometre Agüimes stage at 17:26hrs local time.
Jan Kopecký has responded to Craig Breen’s threat in the battle for second place on Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés with a charging performance in his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000.
But Kopecký admitted he was a little too fast on the Agüimes stage – the longest of the FIA European Rally Championship counter – when he suffered a “big moment” one kilometre from the finish of the 25.82-kilometre run, which was held in dry conditions.
“We tried to do our maximum,” said Kopecký, who started the stage 12.7s ahead of Breen. “We came back to last year’s set-up and in dry conditions it’s working well. But we had a big moment on a long left-hander when we were braking too late and sliding 40 metres completely off the line.”
Breen, meanwhile, was unconcerned despite slipping 33.3s behind Kopecký in the overall standings. He said: “I’m happy, we don’t come here to challenge for victories and podiums. It’s about gaining experience. We’re going for this championship in 2014, not this year.”
Robert Kubica was fastest once again in his Citroën DS3 RRC, albeit a mere 1.1s quicker than Kopecký. However, Daniel Oliveira failed to start the stage after retiring with a broken gearbox at the service halt in Las Palmas. Meanwhile, Luis Monzón reported brake issues on his MINI after setting the fourth quickest time.
Robert Kubica has made it eight stage wins out of eight on Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés despite a scare on the day-closing Ingenio test.
Kubica, making his debut in the FIA European Rally Championship, was 2.2s quicker than closest rival Jan Kopecký through the 20.88-kilometre run, even though he lost time reversing after nudging a brick wall. It means the Polish driver’s overnight lead stands at 1m06.7s.
“It’s been a good day,” said Citroën driver Kubica. “In the last stage there was a tight junction. I pulled the handbrake and touched with the rear a house. I had to reverse and lost 10 or 12 seconds. But it’s been a nice day, perfect testing in different weather conditions. Now we just need to continue running at our pace.”
Luis Monzón was third quickest in his MINI with Craig Breen fourth, one place ahead of Peugeot Rally Academy team-mate Jérémi Ancian.
Elsewhere, János Puskádi reported a possible problem with the rear differential of his Eurosol Rally Team Hungary ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, which dropped onto front-wheel-drive mode only.
ERC Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés day one report: Kubica on a charge
Formula One racer Robert Kubica has completed a thrilling opening day of Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés with a strong lead on his debut in the FIA European Rally Championship.
The Polish ace, who is making his first appearance on the demanding asphalt roads of Gran Canaria, set the pace aboard his Citroën DS3 RRC on all eight stages as unseasonal weather increased the challenge facing the 15 ERC regulars in action.
Jan Kopecký, chasing a hat-trick of wins on the island event for ŠKODA Motorsport, is second overnight, 1m06.7s behind Kubica, with Craig Breen a strong third for the Peugeot Rally Academy.
In the battle for ERC Production Car Cup honours, Subaru’s Andreas Aigner leads ahead of Renault driver Germain Bonnefis. Enrique García Ojeda tops the ERC 2WD Championship section for Citroën with Ekaterina Stratieva the leading ERC Ladies’ Trophy contender.
The bright sunshine and warm ambient temperatures experienced for much of the week had given way to rain and fog by the time the 13.57-kilometre Moya stage got underway just before 08:00hrs. While the bulk of his rivals opted for Michelin’s medium-compound tyres, Kubica opted to fit four soft-compound covers. The choice proved ideal for the damp tests located to the west of the event’s Las Palmas base as he moved into a lead he was able to extend throughout the day, despite his lack of experience in rallying. His only major cause for concern came on Friday’s final test, Ingenio, when he nudged a brick wall.
“It’s been a good day,” said the 28-year-old talent. “In the last stage there was a tight junction. I pulled the handbrake and touched with the rear a house. I had to reverse and lost 10 or 12 seconds. But it’s been a nice day, perfect testing in different weather conditions. Now we just need to continue running at our pace and keep calm.”
Kopecký, the winner of the ERC season-opener in Austria, also suffered a moment in the afternoon, sliding for 40 metres after he got out of shape on a fast corner on stage seven. “Robert is doing a great job and is very talented,” said the Czech. “I don’t think I can catch him now so I just need to drive fast to keep my concentration and try my best tomorrow to finish second.”
Irishman Breen, on a high after finishing in second place on the previous round in Latvia, was in touching distance of Kopecký as the sunshine returned in the afternoon. And he could have been closer had he not been saddled with a 10-second time penalty for leaving service in Las Palmas behind schedule this morning while he delayed his tyre choice until the last possible moment. However, a set-up change prior to stage seven had a detrimental affect on the handling of his 207 Super 2000 and he lost ground to Kopecký. “It was a mistake because the car was less precise with more understeer than before,” said Breen. “But I’m pleased with my performance and we were able to prove the 207 is still a competitive car.”
After SS9: Kopecký ends Kubica's winning run in Gran Canaria
Jan Kopecký has ended Robert Kubica’s sequence of stage wins on Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés by setting the pace on Saturday’s opening test, Maspalomas.
Driving a ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, Kopecký took 4m24.8s to complete the stage, shortened to 9.6 kilometres after a road traffic accident overnight damaged safety guardrails. The double event winner was 1.1s quicker than Robert Kubica, who continues to lead the FIA European Rally Championship by a slightly reduced margin of 1m05.6s.
“It’s a very fast stage and we don’t take any risks,” said Citroën driver Kubica. “Jan did a good time but we’re okay and the car is good.”
There was drama for Peugeot Rally Academy ace Jérémi Ancian who picked up a front-right puncture on his 207 Super 2000. “I don’t know what happened, maybe six kilometres after the start we have a puncture but I don’t know,” said the French ace.
Ancian’s puncture means his margin over fifth-placed local hero Luis Monzón drops to 27.4s. Stage 10, San Bartolome de Tirajana, goes live at 11:09hrs local time. Dry and sunny conditions have returned to Gran Canaria following the rain and fog of Friday.
BREAKING NEWS: Kubica retires from Rally Islas Canarias
Robert Kubica has retired from Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés.
The Pole was leading the FIA European Rally Championship qualifier by more than one minute when he hit trouble on stage 10, Artenara.
Citroën Racing has confirmed that he damaged the left-rear wheel of his Citroën DS3 RRC between junctions seven and eight on the 21.18-kilometre test after braking too late for a right-hand corner. Both Kubica and co-driver Maciek Baran are uninjured but the car is too badly damaged to allow them to continue.
After SS10: Drama as Kubica and Ancian hit trouble
There has been high drama on stage 10 of Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés after event leader Robert Kubica and fourth-placed Jérémi Ancian both retired from the FIA European Rally Championship qualifier.
Kubica, who was more than one minute in front having won the first eight stages, hit trouble approximately 16 kilometres into the 21.36-kilometre San Bartolomé de Tirajana test.
A Citroën Racing spokesperson confirmed Kubica broke the left-rear wheel of his Citroën DS3 RRC striking a barrier on a right-hand corner. Both he and co-driver Maciek Baran are uninjured and are now returning to the event base in Las Palmas.
Ancian, meanwhile, made it to the finish of the stage, albeit almost 2m40s off the pace after he suffered a front-left puncture. With his solitary spare tyre used to replace a front-right puncture on stage nine, Ancian has been forced to retire.
Jan Kopecký was fastest through the stage and now leads Craig Breen by 1m17.0s heading to stage 11.
Local hero Luis Monzón has claimed his first stage win of this year’s Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés.
The MINI John Cooper Works RRC driver took 0.3s to complete the 16.12-kilometre Vallesco test, a performance that cements his grip on third place in the overall standings following the retirements of Robert Kubica and Jérémi Ancian.
Monzón was 0.3s quicker than Jan Kopecký (ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000), whose margin out front stands at 1m22.1s heading to the midday service halt in Las Palmas. Both drivers are double winners of the asphalt showcase, round three of the FIA European Rally Championship.
Andreas Aigner continues to head the ERC Production Car Cup classification in his Stohl Racing Subaru Impreza R4 STI, despite reporting a loss of brakes at the stage finish.
“I had no brakes anymore just the handbrake and it was quite difficult with very quick entries in tight corners,” said Aigner, whose class lead over Renault’s Germain Bonnefis stands at 1m29.5s. “It was hard to be early enough with the handbrake.”
Meanwhile, Craig Breen was the fastest Peugeot driver through the stage, 5.4s down on Monzón. János Puskádi impressed with the fourth fastest time in his Eurosol Racing Fabia. Gorka Antxustegi continues to set the pace in the ERC 2WD Championship division in his Suzuki.
Service in Las Palmas gets underway at 13:24hrs local time. Stage 12, the rerun of Maspalomas, goes live at 15:07hrs.
Jan Kopecký has gone fastest on stage 12, the repeat of Maspalomas, to grow his overall advantage on Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés to 1m29.1s ahead of Craig Breen.
With two stages remaining, the ŠKODA Motorsport driver is firmly on course to claim his second victory in this season’s FIA European Rally Championship.
“I was a bit slower than in the first pass but I don’t think we need to worry too much,” said Kopecký. “I like this stage quite much so I was trying to go almost flat out.”
Peugeot Rally Academy driver Breen, who was 7.0s slower than Kopecký, said: “I’m really happy. We sat down in service and made some changes and the car is responding really well now.”
Local hero Luis Monzón was third fastest in his MINI to maintain his grip on third place. He said: “It’s very difficult to drive because the tyre temperature is up but it’s okay. A podium would be incredible for me.”
Robert Consani was delayed when he picked up a front-right puncture on his Mégane N4. But there were no such problems for his Renault team-mate Germain Bonnefis who continues to occupy fifth overall, one position behind category leader Andreas Aigner.
Stage 13, the repeat of San Bartolome de Tirajana, goes live at 15:40hrs local time.
ŠKODA Motorsport ace Jan Kopecký is one stage away from winning Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés after he set the pace on the penultimate run of the FIA European Rally Championship counter.
Driving a Fabia Super 2000, Kopecký was 11.9s faster than Craig Breen in a Peugeot 207 S2000. It means the Czech’s lead over the rapid Irishman stands at 1m41.0s heading to the final stage, the 16.12-kilometre Vallesco stage at 16:23hrs local time.
Andreas Aigner was the fastest of the ERC Production Car Cup runners in his Subaru Impreza with Gorka Antxustegi marginally quicker than Hermann Neubauer in the ERC 2WD division.
After SS14: Rally Islas Canarias joy for ŠKODA and Kopecký
Jan Kopecký has made it a hat-trick of wins on Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés to make it two wins in succession in this year’s FIA European Rally Championship.
Kopecký and co-driver Pavel Dresler moved in front when Robert Kubica and Maciek Baran crashed their Citroën DS3 RRC on today’s second stage and they made sure of their triumph by going fastest on the event’s final stage to head Craig Breen and Paul Nagle by 1m52.4s.
“I have to say it’s good for us and ŠKODA,” said Kopecký. “The set-up of this car for the dry conditions is really perfect. Robert was great but he made a mistake.”
Andreas Aigner took ERC Production Car Cup glory in his Subaru Impreza with Gorka Antxustegi clinching the ERC 2WD Championship spoils.
Meanwhile, Robert Consani suffered his second puncture of the afternoon, picking up a front-left deflation on his Renault Mégane.
Crews are now returning to Las Palmas for final service and the ceremonial finish.
Dominant victory for Aigner and Subaru in ERC Production Car Cup
Andreas Aigner has won the ERC Production Car Cup on Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés in a hugely impressive fourth overall.
Driving a Subaru Impreza R4 STI on Yokohama tyres, Aigner dominated the category from start to finish to head Renault Mégane N4 driver Germain Bonnefis, who was competing in the French machine for the first time.
“I’m very, very happy,” said Aigner. “That’s what I’ve come for to win the class. I didn’t expect a big, big gap behind me and fourth place overall is unbelievable although I am sorry for the guys who retired. The Production championship is the important thing for the whole year and this is the best, it’s brilliant.”
ERC Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés day two report: Joy for Kopecký, drama for Kubica
Jan Kopecký has made it a hat-trick of wins on Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Inglés to move into the lead of the FIA European Rally Championship.
His success, at wheel of his Michelin-shod ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, followed Robert Kubica’s dramatic retirement from top spot when he damaged his Citroën DS3 RRC striking a barrier on Saturday’s second stage.
In the ERC Production Car Cup there was success for Andreas Aigner, who powered his Yokohama-supported Subaru Impreza R4 STI to first place ahead of Renault Mégane N4 rookie Germain Bonnefis. Gorka Antxustegi took top honours for Suzuki in the ERC 2WD Championship with Ekaterina Stratieva becoming the first driver to win a round of the new ERC Ladies’ Trophy.
Kubica, who was making his ERC debut, had been leading by more than one minute after going fastest on all eight stages on Friday, when he hit trouble on a right-hand bend approximately five kilometres from the finish of stage 10. His heroic performance, however, earned him the prestigious Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy.
“It’s a great pleasure for me to win this award,” said Kubica. “Of course Colin was a great driver and I have been supporting him when I was young. Normally winners are only at the finish but this trophy gives us a bit of satisfaction after this hard end and Colin is always in our hearts. Yesterday was a very positive day for us with a lot of positive experience. Unfortunately today was a negative experience but it’s part of driving.”
Of his accident, Kubica explained: “We were in a high-speed downhill section. It was quite big braking into a third-gear corner. Unfortunately when I hit the brakes I lost the rear of the car and I had to reduce the pressure [on the brakes] otherwise I would spin and the road was very narrow. I tried to do the corner but I didn’t reduce enough speed and I hit the barrier with the rear-left corner. Then with the front we dived into the barrier. It’s a shame but unfortunately this can happen.”
Kopecký, meanwhile, who moves back on top of the ERC drivers’ standings by 18 points following his success on the opening round in Austria, said: “I have to say it’s good for us and ŠKODA. We didn’t expect rain and that’s why we were losing so much on the first day. But the set-up of this car for the dry conditions is really perfect. And we had no problems. Robert was great but he made a mistake, which can happen in rallying.”
Behind Kopecký and co-driver Pavel Dresler, Craig Breen continued his strong start to his career as a member of the Peugeot Rally Academy in an impressive second place alongside navigator Paul Nagle. But there was disappointment for team-mate Jérémi Ancian, who was forced to stop when he ran out of spare tyres after suffering punctures on successive stages this morning.
Based on the Atlantic archipelago’s largest island of Săo Miguel, the event is characterised by stunning countryside and narrow and undulating gravel stages with one test taking crews along the rim of a dormant volcano. Changeable weather is also a big factor.