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Press release

25 MARCH 2018


Round 1 of 6: Azores Airlines Rallye, 22-24 March

PEDRO ANTUNES (PRT) Position: DNF (retired)
Paulo Lopes (PRT) Team: PT Racing Car: PEUGEOT 208 R2

“On the first day I hit a tree and some lights went on so I decided to stop even though the car was okay. It was a right corner, 11 kilometres from the start of the second stage. It was a difficult situation with the braking. I come back on Saturday but it’s frustrating because we are still gaining some experience and we miss one day of rallying and that’s bad. I was not very confident but I was getting the confidence back. The stages were difficult but everything was okay.”

DOMINIK BROŽ (CZE) Position: Fourth
Petr Těšínský (CZE) Team: ACCR Czech Team Car: PEUGEOT 208 R2

“We had two punctures, one on Thursday and one on Friday but in three years we’ve had something like no punctures. The stages were good on Saturday, we enjoyed but we could only wait for mistakes from other ERC Junior guys to move forward because we lost a lot of time with the punctures. It’s a good rally but I hope the next rally will be better for me. I am very happy to be here without crash so big thanks to Czech federation, my sponsors, my team and the guys in the service for their support.”

DIOGO GAGO (PRT) Position: First
Miguel Ramalho (PRT) Team: M Coutinho Car: PEUGEOT 208 R2

“We did it and I’m so happy with this victory. We work really hard to win here. I’m proud of my team, my sponsors and my co-driver. On the first loop of Sete Cidades on Friday there was a bit of fog at the top of the stage. In one crest I slide a bit and touch with the left rear side but nothing happened, just touched and kept going. It was hard on Friday because it had been a long time without driving in rallies, around six months and 10 without driving gravel rallies. I was just trying to find the best rhythm and the best confidence to keep pushing and sometimes it’s difficult. The last two weeks I get the budget to do this rally so I am here. On Saturday we push on the limit and it was worth it. It was difficult to feel how good it is because we didn’t have the rhythm, sometimes I thought I was going too fast and a mistake is around the corner. I had to use everything.”

MIIKA HOKKANEN (FIN) Position: DNF (mechanical)
Jukka Pasenius (FIN) Team: Oktan Sport Car: PEUGEOT 208 R2

“It was a very bad rally for us, one of the toughest for me ever. On Thursday our engine broke so we had to stay in the stage. In the first stage on Saturday our brake balance was completely to the front and we boil our brakes in the first stage and after that we didn’t have the brake in the front. After that it was just surviving so I was not happy. On Thursday our engine broke so we had to stay in the stage. We had a lot of problems so I have to come back stronger on the next rally.”

TOM KRISTENSSON (SWE) Position: DNF (accident)
Henrik Appelskog (SWE) Team: ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team Car: Opel ADAM R2

“The rally started really good and we get a good pace. At the end of the stage the corner was tightening a bit too much and the car don’t steer in as I was expecting. It hit the stone in the right side at the end of the corner and there was nothing I could do. It was just turning over. It’s my first roll over in 200 rallies. Sometimes it happens it happens now and it’s rallying. The car is too damaged, it was rolling two times on the road and the hit at the beginning was too hard so it’s just not possible to do. We are just looking forward to the next rally in Gran Canaria. That’s the only thing we can do now.”

EFRÉN LLARENA (ESP) Position: Second
Sara Fernández (ESP) Team: Rally Team Spain Car: PEUGEOT 208 R2

“What a weekend! We tried to attack, full attack and we were second. It was perfect, we did it. We had a puncture on the rear left, 17 kilometres before the finish of special stage six and we lost 1m10s, which was not so bad. We tried to push hard but on the last loop two stages were cancelled so we did not have the time to make up the gap. Saturday morning was good for us. We tried to attack and did some good times. I was happy with the performance of the car and the set-up was good.”

CATIE MUNNINGS (GBR) Position: Fifth
Anne Katharina Stein (DEU) Team: Saintéloc Junior Team Car: PEUGEOT 208 R2

“It was an incredible rally and I’m really happy to be at the finish. I know I can do a lot better and push a lot harder but I kept a level head to get here and big thanks to the team who worked really hard to get me here. Friday was a complicated day but I was always expecting that. It’s a completely different style of rallying in the Azores, it’s blown my mind. My goal was always to finish this rally because I went out so early last year. If you don’t count last year, this was only my second rally on gravel. It’s a tough one to learn but it’s important to take all the kilometres that I can. We had to keep a sensible head. It was very foggy on Saturday morning and very slippery so we just took that easy because I have no experience of those stages and the day was probably the trickiest day for me personally. I was still trying to get a good feeling with the car. I was not very confident on the fast sections, it felt like it was moving a lot. I’m trying to lean on the experience of my engineers or the other guys in my team to figure out if it’s me and just getting used to the surface or if there is something I can do to change the car. In the first stage on Saturday we spun and got stuck in a really narrow section so we were doing a 25-point turn to try to get out of it which wasn’t ideal. We were just making sure of every corner and even like that it was very easy to have hairy moments, very sideways and very slippery, not a constant grip at all. We were down to 2.4s a kilometre which is cool for us especially on gravel because we have no experience. I think sometimes I forget I really haven’t got much experience on gravel and it’s tough when you come up against other guys who are on gravel all the time but it’s the best place to learn.”

MĀRTIŅŠ SESKS (LVA) Position: Third
Co-driver: Renārs Francis
 (SWE) Team: ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team Car: Opel ADAM R2

“The start was quite tricky and confusing [with the stage stoppages and the notional times]. We had a puncture on stage eight. It was a sharp left-hander, a big rut and a big hit. The first loop was good, not too much risk to stay on the road. On Saturday it was quite tricky at the beginning of the first stage I was a bit too sleepy and then I woke up. Then it was good. I had a good battle with Diogo and it’s normal that he pushes hard as a local driver. In the last stage about five kilometres from the finish, I had no first and second gear. It was a difficult rally but, for me, when it’s more difficult it’s more enjoyable.”

MATTIA VITA (ITA) Position: Sixth
Pietro Ometto (ITA) Team: Oktan Sport Car: PEUGEOT 208 R2

“I’ve taken a great, great package of experience from this race. It’s amazing to finish this rally it’s a very, very difficult race but amazing fans and amazing landscapes. It was my first steps on gravel and step by strep I’m learning the gravel but it’s difficult. I did not do mistakes, only some parts broke which can happen in a race like this. I’m very glad my parents are here to follow me and me the power to continue pushing without doing mistakes. You can’t do any mistake here because the road is very narrow and very tricky. We were unlucky on the second day when we had the problem with the wheel and I could not finish Sete Cidades. Unluckily 100 metres before the end the front left wheel bolts broke but luckily it was a slow corner. It was very frustrating. I was on a very good pace and finally I found a very good set-up on the Saturday stages so it was like a new rally for me.”

SIMON WAGNER (AUT) Position: DNF (mechanical)
Gerald Winter (AUT) Team: Saintéloc Junior Team Car: PEUGEOT 208 R2

“In stage 14 the gear lever was coming loose and the powersteering failed. Then before stage 15 the gearbox and engine mounting had failed so we could not start the stage. It’s very disappointing because I was driving the whole rally without taking risks just to finish, we were following the plan and then this happened so close to the finish. At first [driving to the plan] was was not that good because I wanted to drive faster but my brain was telling me no. It was too important to pick up some good points for my first rally on gravel with the PEUGEOT and the Pirelli tyre. It was difficult to find the right speed but with more kilometres [on gravel] everything will be okay.”



ERC Diogo Gago-jpg
ERC Diogo Gago-jpg

ERC Efren Llarena-jpg
ERC Efren Llarena-jpg

ERC Tom Kristensson-jpg
ERC Tom Kristensson-jpg

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