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This weekend's return to FIA international rallying will be an intriguing one with several front-runners in with a shot of victory at Rally Fafe Montelongo. As round three of the European Rally Championship, it will see the likes of Alexey Lukyanuk, Craig Breen and Oliver Solberg do battle. The rally will be held on the tarmac roads around the Portugese area of Fafe made famous by Rally Portugal. Series leader, Lukyanuk, will go in as favourite in his Citroen C3 R5, but he won't have much to base his preparation on. “This is the first time for this rally to be in the European calendar," he explained. "I just found some videos of the past years online and it looks similar to Rally Canarias in places. "It looks like the road is wide and flowing, extremely fast but technical with a flat surface so I expect a very interesting rally.” Rally Fafe Montelongo is in the same areas as the famous gravel stages, but will use the tarmac roads around the area. It is rare that such an area has both gravel and tarmac roads for international level competition.

Craig Breen finished fourth at the Rallye di Roma Capitale earlier in the year.

It's also the first time since 2003 that mainland Portugal has hosted an ERC round. Breen will be hard to top, but he is yet to win an ERC round this year despite his strong WRC form. He is running on MRF Tyres, and continually developing the tyre rather than targeting all out speed. Oliver Solberg will also be hard to beat. He thinks that an even playing field will suit him. “The good thing is that we’re coming to a new rally,” said the Volkswagen driver.

The tarmac roads of Fafe are foreign to most competitors.

“This is a level playing field for everybody here. I like that. All the people I am competing with in the ERC, they have the same experience for this rally as me: none! For the fight for the championship, it will be more equal.” The rally begins on Saturday with nine stages - a loop of three run twice.
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