Hughes posts another podium in Sardinia

21.05.2007: Hughes posts another podium in Sardinia

Fiesta Sporting Trophy International Rally d’Italia Sardegna, 20 May 2007

Simon Hughes and Claire Mole have battled through round three of the Fiesta SportingTrophy International series to finish third at this weekend’s Rally d’Italia Sardegna. Forced to retire from both leg 1 and 2 with mechanical troubles the pair fought on to claim the final podium position after the difficult three-day event.

Renowned for its very narrow, rocky stages, Sardinia took its toll on the front-wheel drive Ford Fiesta ST with several competitors succumbing to mechanical woes and competitive punctures. On a brighter note the Sardinian Emerald Coast treated all involved with sunshine, blue skies and temperatures as high as 32 degrees Celsius as crews tackled the 342 kilometres of stage distance.

It was an eventful opening leg for the Welshman losing one and a half minutes on stage 4 with a power steering fault and then finally retiring from the day on transport to stage 5. The power steering fluid on his Ford Fiesta ST drained from the steering rack resulting in the car eventually overheating. It was a cruel blow for Hughes who had set the fastest time over the third stage by a massive 52.8 seconds.

Leg 2 became quite hectic for all FSTi competitors after two of the opening three stages were yellow flagged due to some severe accidents involving front running competitors. Hughes still managed to set the quickest time over the only competitive stage of the morning beating his main rival, and eventual rally winner, Barry Clark.

Things were improving well until his gearbox got stuck in third gear during the 22.57 kilometre Loelle stage losing the 23-year-old over a minute and forcing retirement on the road section to the next test. With a podium placing still a possibility his Technium-backed team worked diligently until the small hours of the morning preparing his Fiesta ST for the final leg.

Hughes performed impressively on the final leg wining the opening test and finishing the 54 kilometres of competitive distance safely to secure his second podium finish in as many events.

Simon Hughes said:

"The rally started really well for us and I was immediately putting in some fast times, leading the FST outright, until the problem with the power steering. When we re-started under SupeRally for leg 2 I immediately started where I had left off and set the best time on the first stage that morning. But in the afternoon stages we got stuck in third gear and decided to retire rather than risk damaging the gearbox.

During the last leg’s stages it all felt really good indeed. I was trading times with the eventual winner and there was only seconds between us on every stage. The car was great and we ended the event on a high and with more confidence. Another podium was a good result and we are still third in the championship."

Fiesta SportingTrophy International

1 CLARK GBR 10 10 10 30

2 VERTUNOV RUS 8 5 8 21

3 HUGHES GBR 5 8 6 19

4 BARANAUSKAS LIT DNF 6 4 10

5 BARBATI ITA - 4 5 9

6 BIELTVEDT NOR 6 - - 6

7 MONTEIRO POR - 3 - 3

 

- Stobart -

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21.05.2007 / MaP

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