Craig Breen leads SATA Rallye Açores overnight, the first gravel round of the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship, after the opening three stages on the mid-Atlantic island of São Miguel.
Co-driven by Scott Martin, the Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16 driver had trailed Kajetan Kajetanowicz (LOTOS Rally Team Fiesta R5) after two stages, but took the lead after a great drive through the longest 12.88km Vila Franca São Brás 1 test.
“It’s been a reasonably good day,” said Breen. “We made a safe tyre choice today, so I’m quite happy with the way things have gone.”
Kajetanowicz is second, just 1.4s behind Breen, while Ricardo Moura is third in his repaired Fiesta R5. Josh Moffett (Ford Fiesta RRC) is an excellent fourth, despite having to overtake Charles Martin on SS3, who has been suffering a transmission-related issue in his 208 T16.
Bruno Magalhães has struggled with a lack of power in his Peugeot 208 T16, Giacomo Costenaro reported handling problems in his Peugeot 207 S2000 and Tomáš Kurka, who had to miss the Qualifying Stage after breaking the gearbox in his ŠKODA Fabia S2000, has battled on with technical issues. Robert Consani survived a scary moment on his gravel debut in a Citroën DS3 R5, when he went off the road on SS3 at high speed, losing his rear bumper in the process.
Butvilas on the boil in ERC2
Three fastest stage times in three stages has given Dominykas Butvilas an 8.4s ERC2 lead in his Subaru Poland Rally Team WRX STI. Dávid Botka is just 8.4s behind in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX and is ahead of last year’s ERC Production Car Cup event winner Luis Rego (Lancer). Vojtěch Štajf’s first ever gravel rally started with an accident in Free Practice, which forced him to miss the Qualifying Stage as his Subaru Duck Czech National Team WRX STI was being repaired. He’s adopted a more cautious approach and is fourth overnight, ahead of Peter Ranga, who has suffered gearbox problems in his Topp-Cars Rallye Team Mitsubishi.
Ingram and Sirmacis tied for ERC Junior lead
Chris Ingram and Ralfs Sirmacis are tried for the ERC Junior lead at the end of the first day of competition on the SATA Rallye Açores. The British Peugeot UK and Latvian Sports Racing Technologies 208 R2 drivers both got ahead of Emil Bergkvist on the third stage, demoting the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team Adam R2 to third.
Steve Røkland is fourth, just ahead of fellow 208 driver Diogo Gago, while Marijan Griebel’s second ever gravel rally is going well, as he holds sixth in his Opel Adam R2. Jon Armstrong picked up a front left puncture after clipping a rock towards the end of SS3, having spun earlier in the stage. Vasily Gryazin was a strong fourth, before sliding his Sports Racing Technologies 208 off the road on SS3 and losing almost 17 minutes.
Friday’s route contains eight stages totalling 92.16 kilometres – four different ones run in the morning, and then repeated in the afternoon. The day includes the event’s signature Sete Cidades test, which, at 28.92kms, is the longest of the event.
MEDIA EVENTS AND INFORMATION (all timings local for Saturday 6 June)
Media centre: Pavilhão do Mar, Portas do Mar, Av. Infante D. Henrique, 9500 Ponta Delgada
Opening times: 08h00-22h30,
Event media contact: Rui Anjos, email@example.com, +351 296960400
Television coverage: A preview show, daily highlights and the post-event Inside ERC magazine programme will be broadcast on Eurosport
ERC Rally Radio: Live throughout the event at www.fiaerc.com or through the ERC app
Results, standings, live timing and text commentary: www.fiaerc.com
Rights-free images: Register at the new media section of www.fiaerc.com
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