Adrien Fourmaux delivered in style on his Rally Islas Canarias debut, taking his first outright victory in the FIA European Rally Championship and topping the ERC1 Junior classification to boot in his M-Sport Ford World Rally Team-entered Fiesta R5 MkII.
Co-driven by Belgian Renaud Jamoul and using Michelin tyres, Frenchman Fourmaux moved in front on the rain-hit final morning and held firm in the closing stages with Yoann Bonato making it an all-French one-two in his Michelin-equipped Citroën C3 R5.
Iván Ares, driving a Pirelli-shod Hyundai i20 R5, was the top Spanish finisher in third with Oliver Solberg clinching the ERC1 Junior crown in fourth**.
The 19-year-old was followed home by José Suárez and Andreas Mikkelsen as seventh place was enough for Alexey Lukyanuk to become ERC champion for the second time in three years**.
Armed with a Saintéloc Junior Team-run Citroën C3 R5 on Pirelli tyres, Lukyanuk was reunited with long-term co-driver Alexey Arnautov for the 2020 ERC finale after partnering with Dmitry Feofanov on the first four rounds of the season. Although there were frustrations along the way caused by tyre compound choice and changeable weather, Lukyanuk drove virtually without fault from start to finish.
“There was so much work before, now it’s history,” said Lukyanuk. “Of course, it was a long, tough season with all the things going on in the world but I’m really happy with a successful finish of the rally and of the season. I am happy with my driving in general, maybe not today, but during the season it was strong with solid performances and pretty reliable. We have improved but it’s not easy to fight with limited resources although so far it’s worked. It will be harder and harder in the future so we will have to adjust. But this title would not be possible without the support of Citroën, Total, Saintéloc and Pirelli. For Citroën this is their first FIA European Rally Championship [in the Rally2 class] and for Pirelli it’s also important to be on top. But there are many personal sponsors and partners we must also thank because it’s not easy to compete in these hard times. We must also thank our fans and our families for all their support.”
Fourmaux’s maiden ERC victory revisited
Adrien Fourmaux started leg in second position, 7.5s behind overnight leader Iván Ares. But when Ares was 10s slower than stage pacesetter Yoann Bonato on this morning’s opener, he slipped to third overall, 1.2s behind Fourmaux and 0.4s adrift of Solans, who was second fastest through the stage.
Solans, who lost the lead to Ares on Friday’s penultimate stage, was back in front after SS11, but his charging run through the rain-hit stage – one of two streamed live on Facebook and YouTube – came at a cost. Despite a double puncture, Solans was 1.6s ahead of Fourmaux, who was one of several leading drivers to aquaplane on standing water on a right-hand corner 100 metres from the stage finish.
But with only one spare tyre on board his Škoda Fabia Rally 2 Evo, Solans was forced to limp through the next two stages before service and dropped to P15 as a result. He was then excluded after being adjudged to have driven on a road section with only three fully inflated tyres.
With an advantage of more than half a minute starting the closing loop of four stages, Fourmaux eased his pace knowing victory was assured providing he kept out of trouble in his Ford Fiesta R5 MkII. He duly made it home with a 25-second winning margin over Bonato to score the first ERC win for M-Sport’s latest-generation Fiesta.
Ares finished third for his second ERC podium in as many starts despite losing time with a puncture and suspension damage with Oliver Solberg, José Suárez, Andreas Mikkelsen and ERC champion Alexey Lukyanuk next up. Mikkelsen dropped out of contention after electing to run dry-weather tyres on the opening leg only for rain to wreck his hopes of back-to-back ERC wins following his triumph on Rally Hungary earlier this month.
Callum Devine, Miko Marczyk, Luis Monzón, Craig Breen, Surhayen Pernía, Marijan Griebel, Simone Tempestini and Enrique Cruz completed the list of points-scorers. Niki Mayr-Melnhof finished P16 following clutch issues on leg one. Yeray Lemes was P17 with Grégoire Munster, Josh McErlean and Efrén Llarena rounding out the top 20. Albert von Thurn und Taxis went off the road on SS11.