ERC Junior U27: Lead pair fight for maiden victory in PZM Poland Rally

ERC Junior U27: Lead pair fight for maiden victory in PZM Poland Rally

22.09.2018: FIA European Rally Championship 2018: Round 7 of 8 PZM Rally Poland: Leg one , 22 September Tom Kristensson and Efrén Llarena are locked in a close battle for the FIA ERC Junior Under 27 and ERC3 victory on PZM Rally Poland as

FIA European Rally Championship 2018: Round 7 of 8
PZM Rally Poland: Leg one , 22 September




Tom Kristensson and Efrén Llarena are locked in a close battle for the FIA ERC Junior Under 27 and ERC3 victory on PZM Rally Poland as both drivers strive for a potential maiden win in the Pirelli-supported category.



While Llarena led for Rally Team Spain after Friday’s superspecial in the Mikołajki Arena, Kristensson’s ADAC Opel Rallye Junior team-mate and championship leader Mārtiņš Sesks moved straight in front on stage two.



That lead was a brief one, as Sesks dug his Opel ADAM R2 into a rut and rolled over, initially costing him 17 minutes before deciding to drive back to service and retire. His decision allowed Opel’s mechanics more time to fix his car, which is now ready for a return under Rally2 regulations tomorrow. Kristensson then went on a stage-winning streak, notching up fastest times on stages three to seven to expand a 1.1s gap to 25.0s.



Llarena responded late on as Kristensson’s front tyres began to wear out, winning the final two stages to trim his disadvantage down to 20.2s. Miika Hokkanen had a quiet but productive day, bringing his Saintéloc Junior Team PEUGEOT 208 R2 to the end of leg one in a strong third place. Behind, Mattia Vita’s day was less calm, hitting a tree side-on midway through the same Świętajno.



Though looking somewhat crumpled, his 208 soldiered on to end leg one in fourth. Catie Munnings completes the top five, securing her ERC Ladies’ Trophy lead in the process. Unlike many of her peers, her Saintéloc-prepared 208 arrived back at Mikołajki intact. The Briton's only major drama came on the final stage where she dropped a minute, pulling over to check whether her car was carrying a puncture.



Czech federation-backed Dominik Brož returned from his retirement on Friday’s opening superspecial to finish leg one in sixth. Though his electrical gremlins did not return, his front left damper was broken for much of the afternoon loop. But with only the Rally2-returning Sesks behind, his position is not under threat.



Fifth place had originally been fought between Sebastian Johansson and Rallytechnology’s Kacper Wróblewski in the opening stages. Johansson crashed out earlier on the same stage as Sesks, while ERC debutant Wróblewski suffered an accident of his own on SS5, forcing his exit.



What’s next? The PZM 75th Rally Poland concludes on Sunday with six stages over a competitive distance of 97.90 kilometres. The action begins with the 13.45-kilometre Pozezdrze stage from 08h05 local time. The finish in Mikołajki’s town square is scheduled for 18h20. Click here for results and live text updates.



 
Richard Rodgers, photo FIA ERC

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22.09.2018 / MaP

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