Rally Around the World #22

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Your latest news on Regional Rally championships.

2020 ARC - Bandama Rally - G. Botteril / S. Vacy-Lyle

Following a thrilling FIA Middle East Rally Championship’s curtain raiser in Oman that kicked off the regional rally series early February, the Ivory Coast hosted the opening round of the African Rally Championship, Rally Bandama (20-23 February). A week later, the FIA European Rally Trophy launched into action with Rally Serras de Fafe in Portugal (28 February - 1 March), the first event of the Iberian competition in Portugal.

This week, the engines are roaring on Rally Mexico, the kick-off event of the NACAM Championship in Northern America. However, as a result of global developments regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19), a number of rounds of the regional rally championships have been postponed.


Botteril scores maximum points in the ARC’s season opener

The Ivory Coast hosted the 46th edition of the Bandama Rally (21-23 February) around Yamoussoukro, featuring 12 gravel stages totalling 2 legs and 273.22 competitive kilometres.

South Africa’s national rally champions Guy Botterill and co-driver Simon Vacy-Lyle suffered a setback when their Toyota Etios R4 was unable to cross from the port of Cotonou, Benin to Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The unlucky crew was rescued by 2014 African Rally Champion Gary Chaynes, who offered his Mitsubishi Evo IX on loan.

Botteril’s misfortune continued on Saturday when he experienced power issues on his car and had to retire prematurely in SS1. But the South African refused to concede defeat and restarted on the next day with a time penalty to set strong performances in the final leg, even scoring a stage win in SS10 Lomo Nord - the longest test of the rally with 62 kilometres.

Botteril and Vacy-Lyle finished at the top of the FIA African Rally Championship ranking, scoring the maximum 30 points with an advantage of over 6 minutes ahead of the national crew of Daniel Assaf Farid and Henri Estievenart in their Can-Am Maverick X3.

Rally of South Africa is next on the FIA ARC calendar on 23-25 April.

View Rally Bandama’s photo gallery here. The provisional FIA ARC standings can be consulted here.

Credits: Guy Botteril/Simon Vacy-Lyle, 2020 Bandama Rally, photo Yves Aghouzan Jean Kouakou


FIA ERT Iberian - Rallye Serras de Fafe -  A. Araújo/L. Ramalho

Credit: Armindo Araújo/Luís Ramalho, 2020 Rallye Serras de Fafe (photo Armindo Araújo – Facebook)

Araujo wins, full-scale warm-up for Dani Sordo and Ott Tänak

Portugal celebrated the 33rd Rallye Serras de Fafe on 27-29 February with an exceptional line-up featuring more than 40 crews competing for the Iberian Rally Trophy, originating mainly from Portugal and the neighbouring Spain. They were joined by guest stars Dani Sordo and Ott Tänak at the wheel of their WRC machinery, who attended the event as preparation on gravel ahead of Rally Mexico – however without scoring points for the event.

In the fight for the Iberian Rally Trophy laurels, the battle raged between national heros Armindo Araújo/Luís Ramalho in a Škoda Fabia R5 Evo and Hyundai Motorsport’s WRC2 regulars Nicolay Gryazin/Yaroslav Fedorov, contending on their first gravel stages in a i20 R5 against a wealth of experienced local crews.

Winner of SS1 and SS5, Araújo topped the tables for the first part of the rally. After reaching the overnight halt on Friday in second place overall, his rival Gryazin took the lead on Saturday morning and began to pull clear at top of the order, scoring six consecutive stage wins from SS6 to SS11. But as the roads began to deteriorate in the rain of the afternoon, the Russian made a small mistake and slipped off the road into a ditch from where he could not recover.

It was finally Araújo who won the event, with an advantage of 1 minute and 26 seconds over fellow countryman Bruno Magalhães in a Hyundai i20 R5. The Portuguese driver – who will also contest the FIA European Rally Championship – was consistent throughout the gravel event, never running outside of the top five overall. He was able to move up the order and won the final stage to pull himself up into the runner-up spot. Ricardo Teodósio completed the all-Portuguese Iberian Rally Trophy podium in another Škoda Fabia R5 Evo.

Guest WRC star crews Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja and Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio also joined the action and offered the Portuguese fans the chance to see their driving skills on iconic gravel stages at the wheel of two Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC cars. The team used the opportunity to start their preparations for the upcoming WRC events on gravel, which kicks off with Rally México this week. They were not eligible to score points however, although national regulations allow WRC cars to enter Portuguese Rally Championship events as an opportunity to run in a competitive environment.

Watch the photo selection here. The provisional FIA Iberian Rally Trophy standings can be consulted here.



FIA NACAM - Rally Mexico - Landscape

Get ready for this weekend’s action! The NACAM Rally Championship gets underway on Rally Guanajuato Corona, which also hosts Round 3 of the 2020 FIA World Rally Championship. This year again, the Northern American series consists of five events, with Barbados joining Mexico and Canada as a new host country.

Among the entrants, Ricardo Triviño Bujalil is the clear favourite and will be driving a Škoda Fabia R5 on the special stages around Léon and Guanajuato. The Mexican driver, who forms a successful pair since 2018 with Spain’s hugely experienced codriver Marc Marti, is the undisputed champion, having won the series 10 times since the creation of the championship in 2008.

Triviño will face strong competition from seventeen other crews from Mexico, Canada, Ireland and the USA, including local hero Benito Guerra in another Škoda and America’s rally and gymkhana legend Ken Block in a Ford Escort.

More info on the event website.


Following the coronavirus epidemic that broke out at the beginning of the year, the FIA is closely monitoring the evolving situation with its Member Clubs and relevant authorities including Governments and WHO, under the direction of FIA Medical Commission President, Professor Gérard Saillant. The FIA will evaluate the calendar of its forthcoming races and, if necessary, take any action required to help protect the global motor sport community and the wider public.

To date, the following rounds of the regional rally championships have been postponed:

• FIA European Rally Trophy Celtic – West Cork Rally, Ireland (13-14 March) – See statement here.
• FIA European Rally Championship – Azores Rallye (26-28 March) – See statement here.
• FIA European Rally Trophy Iberian – Rally Sierra Morena (26-28 March) – See statement here.
• FIA Middle East Rally Championship – Manateq Qatar International Rally – See statement here.