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25 MARCH 2018


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

FREDRIK ÅHLIN (SWE) Position: Second
Joakim Sjöberg (SWE) Team: CA1 Sport Car: ŠKODA Fabia R5

“It’s good, second place in ERC Junior U28 is a good start to the year so I’m happy with that. It’s been a difficult two days but we’ve done our best and I’m quite happy. We should have gone on harder [tyres] on Friday afternoon, we lost a bit of time but you learn from this. The visibility was really bad on Friday morning, the fog kept coming and going. It’s a difficult rally and for sure I would be quicker if I know the roads. I had one half-spin in stage eight but that was it really so I must be pleased with that. We had a small problem with the oil pressure but it was manageable. I was trying to drive steady and smooth on the final day, in the middle of the road with no dramas.”

CHRIS INGRAM (GBR) Position: First
Ross Whittock (GBR) Team: Toksport WRT Car: ŠKODA Fabia R5

“It’s a dream debut for me. It’s been awesome, I’m learning the car still and I work so hard to do this. I’m really proud for that. But I’m gutted not to be on the overall podium. We got a puncture on Friday and had a stall on Sete Cidades, losing 20 seconds. I’m a little bit frustrated but I can’t complain because I’ve been fighting rally legends and I’ve never been in this car. The biggest challenge I faced was the pacenotes. They’re for for a 2WD car, they’re not making much sense and I’m having to think so hard about it. It’s also difficult for Ross to adapt because it’s the first time he’s been at this pace. We’ve pretty much left the car alone with a few clicks here and there as we adapt to it.”

Damian Syty (POL) Team: Tiger Energy Rally Drink Team Car: Ford Fiesta R5

“I was five kilometres from the finish of stage nine when I lost the line and go a little bit too wide on some corners. I was a little bit too wide on the right side and I hit a little something on the rear and then I rolled three or four times. I was really sorry for the guys behind me because I block the stage. I was more happy on Saturday because we were driving after our team made a very good yesterday to repair the car, which was very good. On the second Grupo Marques stage I did the third best time, my first top-three stage time in the ERC. It was pretty tough weekend for us, but we finish it with a lot of new rally knowledge. We covered the distance of every special stage, which is important as every kilometre brings us vital experience. The Azores Rallye helped us to get into rally mode and check our pace ahead of oncoming challenges, both in the ERC and Polish championship. At the end I would like to appreciate the fantastic work by C-Rally, who managed to quickly fix our car after our roll and get us going again.”

MARTIN KOČI (SVK) Position: DNF (accident on final stage while second)
Filip Schovánek (CZE) Team: ŠKODA Slovakia Motorsport Car: ŠKODA Fabia R5

“It was my mistake. I touched too much in one corner and it ripped the wheel off. I’m sorry for my team, my sponsors, the fans and my family and I’m sad for me. It might have been a good performance but that doesn’t change much right now. Until that point it was very good rally for us, we had good pace for my first gravel rally with this car. It was a very tricky rally and I was not pushing my maximum I would say because I find it a bit risky. You only score good points in the finish of the rally. I need to be more clever next time. We will come better and stronger.”

FABIAN KREIM (DEU) Position: Fifth
Frank Christian (DEU) Team: ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland Car: ŠKODA Fabia R5

“Today was quite good and in the end it was very good experience for us for sure. The speed was coming step by step. Friday was a very tough day for us, especially in the beginning because we had a puncture on Sete Cidades and lost a lot of time, we lost the rally there. In the afternoon we tried to push and hit a wall which was also not so good. I did not find the perfect rhythm in the afternoon and Saturday was very tough, very slippery with a lot of fog.”

FRANK TORE LARSEN (NOR) Position: DNF (accident on SS11 while fifth)
Torstein Eriksen (NOR) Team: Larsen Motorsport Car: Ford Fiesta R5

“We were too fast, missed the line into a left-hander and hit a tree with our front-right corner of the car. We were okay but the rally was over. Before that we done a quite good, steady rally. We were punished a bit on Friday with the road position and you can see the difference in speed from the first to the second loop. I would have liked to have been faster but what can we do? I said to Torstein after the second Sete Cidades stage that this was worth the trip from Norway down here to do that stage in that fashion. We had to enjoy it because we have worked so hard just to be here. Even though we would like to have been fighting in the top five, we had to take a breath and enjoy what we’re experiencing because this is something you get to do only a few times in your lifetime. I wanted to get to the finish and get some experience because I hadn’t been driving in four or five months and I felt I am a bit rusty. We will be back even stronger.”

Vincent Landais (FRA) Team: BRC Racing Team Car: Hyundai i20 R5

“It was a good final afternoon with the times and I’m happy to learn in this rally. Unfortunately, we stopped after the first stage but I think our performance was not so bad for the first time here. In the last stage we had a problem with the pop-off valve but when we come back next year I will be much better for sure. In the shakedown I had no power. We fixed something because it was like a cutting all the time. When we were in the middle of the stage two, I don’t know why, but I had no power and I had to stop. It was the first time with the car and important to take the maximum experience so to start like this was not a good feeling. I spent Friday at the hotel, in the swimming pool, because I don’t like to watch the drivers on the stages when I am not driving, it makes me more frustrated. The first stage on Saturday was very difficult in the fog and I didn’t drive for two days so it was a little bit difficult. But in the second long stage I did a mistake in the second corner and lost 10s. I stopped the car, had to restart the car and go back. It was on the Tarmac junction. I thought the grip was okay but it wasn’t.”

Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL) Team: G.Car Sport Car: Ford Fiesta R5

“We were happy on Friday, even though there were two times we had to stop because other cars had blocked the stage with accidents. We did some good stages times but it was the first time on gravel with this car, so it was a bit of a challenge, especially in the narrow and twisty parts because when you try to go on the throttle to push, the back starts to slide and it was really easy to touch a bank. We just tried to push when we felt confident and when we didn’t there was just no pressure at all. I couldn’t find the grip on Saturday morning and I wasn’t confident. Then we had a right-rear puncture on stage 11 and had to drive for eight kilometres. We also got a puncture on the last stage. There was a big stone on the line and there was nothing we could do.”

LAURENT PELLIER (FRA) Position: Eighth
Geoffrey Combe (FRA) Team: PEUGEOT Rally Academy Car: PEUGEOT 208 T16

“We retired on Thursday because we had an electrical problem. I would have preferred to stay in the car but that’s the way it works. Instead we went up to the stages on Friday so I could see my opponents and see Azores also. We want to have more performances because before this rally we didn’t know our skills in an R5 car. It’s open so it’s difficult for us to know where we are. We discover our car in the first stage on Saturday in the fog, it was difficult for us but it was okay. In the first Tronqueira stage I did two mistakes and for the end I have one puncture. But we learn and we are happy to be at the end of the rally. I’m in patient to be in Canarias.”

HUBERT PTASZEK (POL) Position: Tenth
Maciej Szczepaniak (POL) Team: Tagai Racing Technology Car: ŠKODA Fabia R5

“We were fighting for nothing after the [administrative] mess-up on leg one. Okay, we are a team and mistakes can be made. We were focusing on the driving on Saturday. We were setting some good times and it was nice to win my first overall stage for the first time in my life because it was not easy to catch the World Rally Cars when I was in WRC2. That stage was for my dad because I know he’s sitting in the company thinking ‘what’s happened, what’s happened’ but now we win. We also won the ERC Junior Under 28 classification [on SS11]. In [the final stage] we did a big mistake. It was such a slow corner but Maciej read it as a ‘six’ [gear corner] so I went flat out and hit the wall.”

LUÍS MIGUEL REGO (PRT) Position: Fourth
Jorge Henriques (PRT) Car: Ford Fiesta R5

“It was a good rally, not easy with some problems but we are happy we have a good result for our championship and I want to say thank you to my team, to all our supporters and my co-driver because he did a great job. The last rally we did on the gravel was in July 2017 so it’s a lot of time and you need to win more rhythm on gravel. Thursday was to get a better feeling with the car and try to find a better set-up. Friday was a little bit better. We push a little bit more. In the morning we were happy with our car and the confidence. But in the afternoon we had some problems with the powersteering. We lose the powersteering on Feteiras and we lose a lot of time. In the next Sete Cidades stage we had to be careful because we didn’t know what would happen with the powerstering so it was a good option to come with the safe mode. On Saturday in the morning we catch a lot of fog, it was very slippery and we lose some traction so it was difficult to drive. Our windscreen also got broken on the superspecial.”

RHYS YATES (GBR) Position: Third
Elliott Edmondson (GBR) Team: CA1 Sport Car: ŠKODA Fabia R5

“It’s been a really good weekend. It started well with a good time in qualifying. We had a few spins getting used to the new car but I’ve really enjoyed it. There is a lot of stuff to catch you out and we had a few near-misses on the final stage. But I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, it’s been awesome. We had a small spin on Thursday and then we had a small spin on Friday. It’s a little frustrating because if you take 30s off we’re a bit closer but I’m happy with where we were. Maybe you throw caution to the wind on a different rally and get away with it. Here there’s no chance. On Saturday we went from third on the road to first on the road in one stage. Frank Tore [Larsen] unfortunately went off and his car was sat across the road. We had to sit and wait for what felt like forever while they bounced it out the way. Then we started catching dust near the end and I thought ‘what’s up’. Then we saw the Hyundai [of Carlos Vieira]. The wheel looked pretty bent. The fog was hard work and it makes you more hesitant. But the car was absolutely spot and Elliott has been bang on and it was good to use his experience from last year. It’s my first time with Elliott, my first time in the ŠKODA and my first time on this rally so it’s been a good weekend.”



ERC Chris Ingram-jpg
ERC Chris Ingram-jpg

ERC Fredrik Ahlin-jpg
ERC Fredrik Ahlin-jpg

ERC Pierre-Louis Loubet-jpg
ERC Pierre-Louis Loubet-jpg

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