Baranauskas seizes his first FSTi victory in Spain

08.10.2007: Baranauskas seizes his first FSTi victory in Spain

Lithuanians Vytautas Baranauskas (23) and co-driver Gediminas Celiešius (35) have seized their first win of the season in the Fiesta SportingTrophy International (FSTi) in Rally Catalunya in dramatic style.

Both Baranauskas and current 2007 FSTi Champions Barry Clark (25) and co-driver Scott Martin (25) experienced big impacts to their Fiesta STs during the second asphalt rally of the season, but recovered to finish first and second respectively.

Copi Sport’s Bio-Ethanol Fiesta ST, driven by 2006 FST Canary Islands’ Champion Heriberto Godoy (35) and co-driver José Yeray Diaz (29) also took the N3 class victory, but the car was not eligible to score points in the FSTi championship due to the performance gain that the E85 biofuel (85% ethanol and 15% petrol) offers against the standard GpN FSTi cars. This was a great result and bodes well for M-Sport’s E85 programme, which will run the GpN Fiestas on E85 in the 2008 FIA World Rally Championship.

Torrential rainfall welcomed competitors to Spain and Friday saw drivers tackling two laps of two stages north-east of the town before a final loop of two tests to the west, totalling 148 kilometres. Tyre selection was the dominant factor as the conditions in the mountains near Salou changed from wet to dry and back to wet again.

Reigning Champion Clark started in his usual dominant style in his Stobart Motorsport Fiesta, taking four N3 class wins on the first day, the remaining two being snatched by Godoy in the E85 car. Red Ford de Canarias crew José Maria Santana (18) and Luis Hernandez (25) were unlucky on their debut WRC appearance, when they picked up two punctures on Stage 1. They were only carrying one spare wheel, a gamble that forced them into retirement for the rest of the day.

Following a spin on Stage 1 and a puncture on Stage 2, Baranauskas selected the wrong tyres on Stage 5, where the first four kilometres were wet, and the remaining 18 kilometres were totally dry. This made tyre choice difficult for all drivers, but Baranauskas’ choice to use slicks resulted in a spectacular roll, losing him ten minutes under SupeRally regulations. The team worked through the night to repair the car so that it was ready for the following morning.

In contrast to the opening leg, Saturday remained dry throughout. While the rally base at Salou was bathed in glorious sunshine, the special stages to the north and west were cloudy but there was never any threat of rain and tyre choice was far more straightforward.

Santana was to experience misfortune again, this time with the alternator, resulting in retirement on the first stage of the day and costing him 35 minutes in penalties. Baranauskas picked up another puncture, this time on Stage 10, but otherwise had no problems on the second Leg.

The drama started for Clark on Stage 9, when mud that had slid down from the hillside onto the otherwise dry road caught the Champion out and launched the car off the hillside, landing heavily on its nose from a drop of 25 metres. The Brits were unharmed, but angry at their impending retirement.

Once the car had been recovered, however, Clark’s David Greer Motorsport team were confident that they could repair the damage. The mistake was to cost them 30 minutes in penalties. By the end of Leg 2, Baranauskas was leading Clark by 15 minutes. 

The excitement continued into the final Leg, the shortest of the rally, comprising two identical loops of two stages west of Salou, totalling 85 kilometres of competition before the finish. Clark’s chances of victory in FSTi looked within reach when they saw that Baranauskas had lost his power steering before the midday service stop.

The team were unable to repair the leak in service, and the Lithuanian was forced to stop on the final stage. For this, he incurred a ten minute penalty, reducing his lead, but still finishing and retaining a comfortable margin over second-placed Clark. Santana finished in third position, struggling through the final stages, having lost all but third gear and with a damaged driveshaft.

The final round of the Fiesta SportingTrophy will take place on Wales Rally GB (30 November-2 December).

 

Vytautas Baranauskas said:

"I am so happy to win this rally! We have had so much bad luck and Barry [Clark] has driven so fast this year, and with so much consistency, that he has been too hard to beat.

I was pushing hard and I thought we might lose the rally when the power steering went; my emotions were like the rollercoaster at the Service Park! I am really looking forward to the final rally in Wales and I hope that Barry will be there to fight with me again."

 

Barry Clark said:

"This was a difficult rally for Scott [Martin] and I and we started with quite low confidence. But it grew as the rally went on and I was on a fair enough pace. On Stage 9, we took a tight right-hander, followed by a hairpin left, where we found wet mud across the road.

Another car had already gone off in the same place and taken the Armco barrier out, so, when we went off, there was nothing to break our fall. It was all happening too fast, but apparently we flew right over the top of the other car and dropped about 25 metres.

We thought the car was too badly damaged, but the DGM team did a fantastic job to get us back into the rally."

 

Heriberto Godoy said:

"To finish as N3 winners on our first WRC event was so fantastic, I cannot describe the feeling. I am pleased that we were able to showcase the performance of the Bio-Ethanol Fiesta, as it demonstrates how good the cars will be when they run biofuel in next year’s FSTi championship.

We were lucky to stay on the road when others didn’t, but the Fiesta proved that it is a tough car and a safe car… and a fun car as well!"

 

Championship standings after round 6 of 7

1 B CLARK GBR 10 10 10 10 10 8 58

2 V BARANAUSKAS LIT DNF 6 4 8 8 10 36

3 E VERTUNOV RUS 8 5 8 - - - 21

4 S HUGHES GBR 5 8 6 - - - 19

5 G BARBATI ITA - 4 5 - - - 9

6 S BIELTVEDT NOR 6 - - - - - 6

7 J M SANTANA SPA - - - - - 6 6

8 M MONTEIRO POR - 3 - - - - 3

*6 of 7 scores to count

 

 

- Kate Rhodes-

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/fiesta-sportingtrophy-baranauskas-vytautas-lithuanians-barry-clark-copi-sport-bio-ethanol-ford-heriberto-godoy-red-de-canarias-santana---28824.html

08.10.2007 / MaP

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