Regional Rally Championship events provide thrilling action


Two FIA Regional Rally Championship events delivered thrilling action last weekend with rounds of the CODASUR and European championships decided on the very last stage.

Following the season opener in Fafe earlier this month, the FIA European Rally Championship resumed on the 56th Azores Rallye (March 25-27).

Ricardo Moura, the 10-time Azorean champion and home hero, had led from the start but couldn’t prevent Efrén Llarena from snatching the victory on the rally-deciding Power Stage.

Llarena, who is co-driven by Sara Fernández, the first woman to win the FIA European Rally Championship for Co-Drivers, started the event’s 14th stage 6.1s behind Moura but came through to win by 2.6s in a dramatic finish.

Afterwards, the 26-year-old from Spain said: “For sure it’s a dream. Several times we were on the podium and I think now we deserve to win, it’s amazing and also for my family and my friends who support us and for MRF Tyres.”

Simon Wagner, the reigning Austrian champion, scored his first ERC podium in third to make it a Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo 1-2-3.

In the supporting categories there was success for Jon Armstrong/Bryan Hoy (Ford Fiesta Rally3) and Anthony Fotia/Arnaud Dunand (Renault Clio Rally4).

On an exciting weekend of international rallying, Diego Dominguez Sr and Egardo Galindo (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5) left it to the final stage to win the Petrobras Rally Trans Itapúa in Paraguay, the opening round of the FIA CODASUR Championship.

They beat Augusto Bestard/José Luis Díaz on the gravel event’s 12th and final stage having been in third place and 6.1s adrift of first with one stage remaining.

Dominguez Sr had held the lead for a time on the opening leg but slipped back to third at the overnight halt before he mounted his late charge for victory on the final day as Gustavo Saba/Fernando Mussano completed an all-Paraguayan podium.

Local drivers Wilfried Klassen/Gustavo Garcia took CODASUR2 honours in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, while Argentine crew Luigi Contin/Federico Rodríguez came out on top in CODASUR4 driving a Renault Clio Rally5.

Elsewhere, the Asia Cup section of the FIA Asia-Pacific Championship got underway last weekend on the South India Rally, using mainly asphalt stages in Chennai. Karna Kadur and co-driver Nikhil Pai claimed the victory in a Volkswagen Polo. Three-time Asia Pacific champion Gaurav Gill finished recovered to finish second after he was forced to retire on leg one due to a mechanical issue.

Reflecting on his maiden APRC victory, Kadur said: “I cannot ask for anything better. As always, there is last-minute drama today with lower-arm bush popping out, but we were lucky to finish. Till 2018, we won all the sub-categories we entered. And only in 2019 we started getting the budgets and the backing to go overall. From there, we were developing the car, thanks to the whole team at Arka, Volkswagen Motorsport and MRF Tyres.”

The APRC, CODASUR and ERC events followed on from the Kuwait International Rally, round three of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship from March 17-19, where Khalid Mohammad Al-Suwaidi and Hugo Magalhães triumphed in a Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo.

A busy period for FIA Regional championship rallying continues this weekend with Equator Rally Kenya, round two of the FIA African Rally Championship (April 1-3), and Rally of Nations Guanajuato, the second event of the FIA NACAM Championship season (April 1-3).


(Photo Caption : Efrén Llarena & Sara Fernández, Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo/Credits: Azores Rallye)

(Photo Caption : Diego Dominguez Sr & Egardo Galindo, Volkswagen Polo GTI R5/Credits: RALLY FIA Codasur)

(Photo Caption : Karna Kadur & Nikhil Pai Volkswagen Polo/Credits: Madras Motor Sports Club)