The team recorded their first win in the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) with late wins for Efrén Llarena and Sara Fernández in the Azores, but are now focused on the tarmac of Round 3 in the Canary Islands.
The Rally Islas Canarias is the first sealed surface race of the season and offers participants a unique challenge.
While the rough roads offer high and predictable levels of grip, the weather can change dramatically in the blink of an eye. As such, choosing the right tire package before each lap can be a headache.
If you’re driving on slicks and it starts raining, you’re in trouble. Likewise, take rain on a dry road and you may not have much rubber left at the end of the loop.
“It’s a lottery in the Canary Islands,” confirms Vivek Ponusammy, MRF team representative. “Car number one may have an incredible amount of rain on a stage, but car number 15 may not even have a single drop of rain.
“We’ve seen this first hand in recent years when Craig Breen rode for us and also last year with Nil Solans and Simone Campedelli. It is purely a lottery game.
“Nevertheless, the roads are very grippy and we’ll be doing a private test with all three cars before the event, so we’ll see,” he added.
The Indian tire giant remains confident in its chances for the May 12-14 encounter. Llarena was second as a privateer last year, while Italian star Campedelli was fourth after slouching in his MRF-tyred Škoda with a 10-second penalty.
“We’re going into this rally very modestly,” continued Ponusammy. “We know we will have a fight ahead of us, but we will continue to improve our performance.
“Last year we were running in the top three with Simone until he touched a ball chicane and got a penalty. But if we just look at the stage timing, I think we set an extremely good pace.”