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Bruno Magalhães retains FIA European Rally Championship lead after third place finish at the Rally Islas Canarias, while Marijan Griebel still leads in the ERC Junior U28 standings. Ole Christian Veiby takes the lead in the Norwegian Rally Championship after the podium finish at the Rally Sørland. Hermen Kobus comes second at the Rallye Sulingen, as Fabian Kreim crashes out but stays in the German Rally Championship lead.

Podium for Bruno Magalhães at the Rally Islas Canarias

The Rally Islas Canarias (4th to 6th May) was the second round of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC), the new ERC Junior U28 Championship as well as the Spanish Rally Championship.

And with much to play for, it was Bruno Magalhães who led the way amongst the ŠKODA drivers in what was his very first rally on tarmac in a FABIA R5. The Portuguese driver and his co-driver Hugo Magalhães could have finished higher too as they were involved in a tight tussle for second place with Kajetan Kajetanowicz.

Bruno Magalhães / Hugo Magalhães, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Bruno Magalhães. Rally Islas Canarias 2017

Magalhães led his Polish rival by just 2.2 seconds after the first leg, but after falling behind on a wet and slippery stage 7 battled hard to cut the gap to just 4.1 seconds. But he couldn’t quite close the gap entirely and ended up just 6.4 seconds behind in third place.

Magalhães’ podium finish means he retains his lead of the overall European Rally Championship standings after two rounds.

The next FABIA R5 home was that of ERC debutant Sylvain Michel. He brought his 2C Compétition FABIA R5 home in eighth place overall and second in the ERC Junior U28 standings, which is his main target for the season.

The reigning French Tarmac Rally Champion, who was alongside co-driver Jérôme Degout, was competing in his first rally of the year and but for a 10-second jump-start penalty on stage 9, would have won in the Junior U28 standings. As it was, he was an agonising 9.9 seconds behind the winner in that category, but understandably pleased with his overall performance.

Just behind Michel, in third place in the Junior U28 standings was the German Marijan Griebel, who won the opening round of the championship in the Azores in this category and retains the overall championship lead at the Rally Islas Canarias.

Griebel and his co-driver Stefan Kopczyk were driving a FABIA R5 prepared and run by the Baumschlager Rallye & Racing team and it was Griebel’s first rally on tarmac with the R5 machinery. He made a little bit cautious start before gradually climbing through the field. Ultimately, he benefitted from fellow FABIA R5 driver Nikolay Gryazin’s off-road incident at the Las Palmas street stage to finish just 12.4 seconds ahead of his Russian rival, who was fourth in the Junior U28 standings for the Sports Racing Technologies team.

With ŠKODA drivers at the top of both the ERC and ERC Junior U28 championship standings, all eyes will now turn to the next rounds of both championships. The third round of the 2017 ERC will be the Acropolis Rally in Greece (2nd to 4th June), while ERC Junior U28 championship will continue only in early August at the Polish Rally Rzeszow.

Ole Christian Veiby heads Norwegian championship standings after the Rally Sørland

In the fourth round of the Norwegian Rally Championship, the Rally Sørland (6th May), the young Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby claimed more crucial championship points with a third place finish.

Veiby, who had just returned from the long journey to New Zealand to compete in the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) at the International Rally of Whangarei, stated beforehand that it had never really clicked for him at this event, but after a strong performance in New Zealand, his hopes were high.

Ole Christian Veiby / Stig Rune Skjærmoen, ŠKODA FABIA R5. Rally Sørland 2017

And whilst Veiby and his co-driver Stig Rune Skjærmoen did manage to get their Printsport Oy FABIA R5 onto the podium and secure his first ever finish at this event, the Norwegian driver was not completely satisfied with his performance.

The result sees Veiby in a three-way tie for the Norwegian championship lead alongside Eyvind Brynildsen and Anders Grøndal. But it is unclear as of yet how many more rounds of the championship he will compete in.

With or without Ole Christian Veiby, the next round of the Norwegian Rally Championship will be the Aurskog-Høland Rally which takes place on 17th June.

NEWS IN BRIEF

Dutchman Hermen Kobus secured an impressive second place finish at the Rallye - Rund um die Sulinger Bärenklaue (5th to 6th May), the third round of the German Rally Championship (DRM). Kobus, who was driving a FABIA R5 for his own Kobus Tuning team alongside co-driver Erik de Wild, is actually focusing his season on the Dutch Rally Championship, of which this event was also a round. Kobus made a slow start, but four fastest times on the final six stages saw him climb to second.

We had a lot of fun in the car on gravel,” said Hermen Kobus. “It was very cool, but it's no secret that we still have a lot to learn in this car.”

The ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland FABIA R5 of Fabian Kreim / Frank Christian was forced to retire after an accident on the special stage 4, but Kreim retains the overall DRM championship lead.

The Transilvania Rally (5th to 6th May) in Romania was both the second round of the Romanian championship and the season opener of the TER Series (Tour European Rally). It proved to be an interesting rally for the ŠKODA România Motorsport Team’s pairing of Dan Gîrtofan / Tudor Mârza. Tyre issues combined with wet and slippery conditions saw them adopt a cautious approach which meant they finished fourth in the overall and TER standings and second in the Romanian championship standings.

“It was tough because of the poor conditions on the opening stages,” explained Dan Gîrtofan. “The tyres didn’t feel good until the second loop of day two when we found a much faster pace. But by then we were too far back. But we scored some important points and can be positive going into the next event.”

At the Rally Opatija (5th to 6th May) in Croatia, the German pairing of Thomas Wallenwein / Jennifer Lerch were competing in the Mitropa Cup in a FABIA R5 for the race:pro motorsport. They finished fourth in the Mitropa Cup standings and eighth overall

At the Leptines Rally (7th May) in Belgium, young Belgian Achiel Boxoen was driving with legendary Belgian rally driver - and still reigning Belgian Rally Champion - Freddy Loix as his co-driver. They came home in third place, just 36 seconds behind the two cars which tied for first place on this 12-stage, 115km rally.

There were two FABIA R5s in the top three at the TerraWice Ralli in Finland. Marko Mänty / Joni Mäkelä finished in second place for the Printsport Oy team, just 10.4 seconds behind the winner. One place further back in third were Mikko Lehessaari / Mikko Lukka for Hannu’s Rally Team.

COMING UP THIS WEEKEND

Date Rally Surface
12-14 May Rally Adriatico Italian Rally Championship Round 4 Gravel
13-14 May Rallye d'Antibes - Côte d'Azur French Tarmac Rally Championship Round 3 Asphalt
13-14 May Rally Villa de Adeje Spanish Rally Championship Round 3 Asphalt
13 May Donegal Forestry Rally Irish Forest Rally Championship Round 3 Gravel