Bernardi fends off Junior winner Franceschi for ERC3 victory

Bernardi fends off Junior winner Franceschi for ERC3 victory

05.05.2019: *Franceschi and Rossel complete all-French ERC3 podium *Heartbreak for Furuseth as Llarena finishes second in

*Franceschi and Rossel complete all-French ERC3 podium

*Heartbreak for Furuseth as Llarena finishes second in ERC3 Junior for Rally Team Spain

*Antunes takes first ERC3 top-three finish for FPAK Portugal Team ERC



FIA European Rally Championship 2019, Round 2 of 8
ERC3 Rally Islas Canarias leg two  4 May




A down-to-the-wire battle in the FIA European Rally Championship’s ERC3 category went Florian Bernardi’s way by a mere five seconds, with ERC3 Junior winner Jean-Baptiste Franceschi only just falling short on Rally Islas Canarias.



Franceschi was a man on a mission, racking up six ERC3 stage wins out of eight on Saturday as the Ford Fiesta R2T driver sought to catch overnight leader Bernardi’s Renault Clio.



A 28.5s gap after SS8 was quickly whittled down to only 6.3s heading to the final stage, setting up a tense finale. But one final push from Bernardi was enough, limiting his losses to only 1.3s and securing an ERC3 victory. "I'm very happy," Bernardi said afterwards. "It's my first rally this season and quickly I got a good feeling. My team made good work and I am really pleased."



There was one final twist to the story too: Bernardi had been nursing a broken front anti-roll bar for the final three stages without telling anyone.



Yohan Rossel made it an all-French podium, bringing his Peugeot Rally Academy 208 R2 home 21s behind ERC3 Junior winner Franceschi.



"It's amazing, it was a good opportunity from M-Sport and I want to thank them for this. It was my first time in ERC Junior and my first time here. The car worked very well and I enjoyed a lot the stages."



Franceschi had overcome an early scare when a team member was unable to locate the refuel zone on Friday morning. Fortunately help was at hand for Franceschi in the shape of the rival Saintéloc Junior Team, which magnanimously filled up his Fiesta when all appeared to be lost.



Rally Team Spain’s Efrén Llarena strengthened his championship lead with second place in ERC3 Junior, though was aided by Sindre Furuseth’s retirement with rear brake issues.



Pedro Antunes scored his first podium of the season for FPAK Portugal Team ERC, bringing his Peugeot 208 R2 home in third.



Grégoire Munster (ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team) won a day-long battle with Simon Wagner (Stengg Motorsport) over fourth place, the pair having traded places several times throughout the rally. Wagner had made the better start and closed the gap to 1.1s after SS9 but progressively fell back thereafter, finishing 20.1s behind by the end.



In addition to finishing sixth in ERC3 Junior, Grigor Grigorov was deep in a battle over eighth in the overall ERC3 category, battling Sean Johnston (Saintéloc Junior Team). The American driver had made significant inroads on the morning loop and passed Grigorov on SS13 but the Bulgarian driver responded, retaking sixth one stage later and fending off Johnston in a battle over tenths of a second.



Petr Semerád had a bold introduction to ERC3 Junior on Friday by rolling over on SS2 but improved as the rally went on. He passed Kristóf Klausz for eighth in the morning and then moved into seventh when Elias Lundberg suffered a puncture on the penultimate stage.



Klausz also gained a place from Lundberg’s late drama, going on secure eighth for his family Klausz Motorsport team. Lundberg brought the second ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team car to the finish in ninth.



Nabila Tejpar completed the top 10 in ERC3 Junior on her category debut, finishing ahead of Miika Hokkanen. The Finn had been an early top five contender until a double puncture on Friday morning forced him to retire through a lack of spare tyres, returning under Rally2 to finish P11.



Galdar proved to be one of the toughest stages of the rally, catching out experienced and rookie drivers alike. Roman Schwedt (Team ROMO) had been in the hunt for a seventh place finish in ERC3 Junior until his engine died, while Roland Stengg (Stengg Motorsport) was forced to stop and retire again with a rear suspension bearing failure on the road section between Galdar and Vallesco.





 Richard Rodgers, photos FIA ERC
 

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/bernardi-fends-off-junior-winner-franceschi-erc3-victory---190042.html

05.05.2019 / MaP

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