Karl Kruuda stars on WRC return

Karl Kruuda stars on WRC return

08.06.2014: Karl Kruuda Rally Italia Sardegna review Karl Kruuda gave the Peugeot 208T16 its World Rally Championship

Karl Kruuda Rally Italia Sardegna review



Karl Kruuda gave the Peugeot 208T16 its World Rally Championship debut and went fastest in class on three stages on his way to fourth in WRC 2


Karl Kruuda delivered a stage-winning performance when he gave Peugeot’s 208T16 its debut in the World Rally Championship on Rally Italia Sardegna (June 5-8).


But while the 21-year-old Estonian star was fastest in class on three stages, his lead on leg one proved to be short-lived after a mechanical failure forced him to restart under Rally 2 rules. Despite the setback, Kruuda produced a stunning recovery drive to charge through from 10th to fourth in WRC 2 and stay firmly in contention for the support championship title with four scoring opportunities remaining in 2014.


Kruuda, who won WRC 2 on Rally Sweden in February in a Ford Fiesta S2000, was making his second start in the R5-specification Peugeot run by the Hungarian Tagai Racing Technology team.


Although he was still acclimatising to the turbocharged machine and its five-speed gearbox, which he used for the first time on a national event in Estonia last month, Kruuda was quick to make his mark by going fastest in the hugely competitive WRC 2 division on stage three. And he repeated that performance two stages later to take the class lead.


However, four kilometres from the start of Friday’s rock-lined final test, Kruuda was forced to stop.


“We were just driving normally on the road and we just heard a hit, it was not a big hit and I thought it would be a puncture but actually it was the lower bolt holding the damper to the hub that broke off,” Kruuda explained.


“The front-left wheel was just on its side and I was very disappointed.”


Following repairs by the side of the road, Kruuda and co-driver Martin Järveoja drove back to service in Alghero ahead of the restart on the second day under Rally 2 rules. Determined to make amends for his exit on Friday, Kruuda made a strong start to Saturday’s stages with his third fastest time despite a minor problem with the positioning of his car’s steering.


With the first run through the 59.13-kilometre Monte Lerno stage neutralised when one of his rivals crashed out, Kruuda was denied an opportunity to gain more knowledge of his new car at competition speed.


Nevertheless, he made it through Saturday’s closing brace of stages even though an overheating issue and loose suspension bolt caused further concern and reduced his ultimate pace. He reached the finish beside Alghero’s seafront on Sunday afternoon in a strong 14th overall and fourth in WRC 2.


“It was a very good rally for us,” said Kruuda. “Okay we had some problems with the car but that’s the process with a new car when you’re exploring everything. I was really pleased how I drove, especially on the first day.


This is always a difficult rally and I’m sad we had to retire on Friday but I’d like to thank all the people who were supporting us and believing in us. We’re getting better and better on every rally and I will go to Poland for my next rally hoping to get as many points as I can.”



Anthony Peacock,  also photo

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08.06.2014 / MaP

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