Sainz: Canarias is a worthy WRC replacement for Catalunya

Double world champion has fond memories of challenging stages and fantastic support on Canary Islands

Rally Race Costa Blanca Alicante (ESP) 22-24 03 1985

Three years earlier he was still in the Seat Panda 45. And that jaw-dropping World Rally Championship debut was still a couple of years away. It’s Las Palmas, June, 1985. And Carlos Sainz has just celebrated his first big win.

Welcome to the Canary Islands, scene of Sainz’s first European Rally Championship victory. And the ERC seemed to be as good as it would get for rallying on Spain’s Atlantic islands. Until last month, and the news that the World Rally Championship would be landing into Las Palmas next season.

Tthe World Rally Championship will be very welcome. They’re not our words; they’re the words of Sainz himself.

“I have good memories from this place,” Sainz told DirtFish. “It’s a nice place with some very good roads, they are challenging. I am really happy to see Canarias going to the world championship. It’s very good news to host a WRC round there.

“People will be surprised at the number of fans supporting rallying out there. I know this very well, myself. In my old days, I won El Corte Inglés Rally five times and this is the place, as a Spanish driver, where you are getting the most support.”


Fans flock to ERC event, which even action inside Gran Canaria basketball arena

ERC manager Iain Campbell agrees wholeheartedly with Sainz, adding: “The support for rallying in the Canaries is absolutely crazy. There’s a radio station out there with an hour-long show every day all about motorsport.

“I read some of the comments about leaving Salou… don’t worry, it’s the same deal in Las Palmas – there are thousands of hotel rooms which are sensibly priced and pretty much every country has a budget airline flying to the islands, the restaurants are great and, most importantly, the stages are fantastic. They’re so twisty, the cars will just about turn themselves into their own exhaust pipe!

“But the fans, the passion the fans bring is on another level. It’s just incredible. It will be a sight to behold when the WRC gets to the Canary Islands.”

Girardo_Co._Archive_710864 landscape crop

Sainz stunned with fastest time on 1987 WRC debut

Before we go, that jaw-dropping WRC debut for Sainz… remember Rally Portugal, 1987? Sainz made his WRC debut in a Group A Ford Sierra RS Cosworth and immediately went fastest at the Estoril stage.

In eight miles, he took a second per mile out of second quickest Jean Ragnotti (Renault 11 Turbo). The leading Lancia was Markku Alén, who was 10s down on Sainz after SS1. Sainz was running third when turbo trouble forced him out.