An excellent second for Simon Hughes in Portugal

01.04.2007: An excellent second for Simon Hughes in Portugal

Fiesta Sporting Trophy International
Rally de Portugal, 01 April

 

It’s been another solid performance for Welshman Simon Hughes, narrowly missing out on his maiden Fiesta SportingTrophy International victory, to finish second at this weekend’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal. The event shaped up to be a real nail-bitter with Hughes and fellow FSTi competitor Barry Clark dominating the one-make championship.

Co-driven by Claire Mole, the 23-year-old took six stage wins out of a possible 18 to finish just 37.9 seconds behind first place and a massive 24 minutes in front of third placed Lithuanian Baranauskas.

Based just behind the beautiful Algarve coastline, the 357.1 kilometres of competitive route set the stage for round two of the highly-competitive FSTi championship. Portugal proved to be a testing rally for the Ford Fiesta ST as competitors battled through mixed conditions from rocks and dust, to deep thick mud after torrential down-pours on Saturday.

Hughes set out hard from the start having to swap his front and rear tyres after a rough opening stage. He pushed through the day winning two stages, finishing the leg 37.2 seconds behind leader Clark. Day two was a similar picture with Hughes and Clark trading blows as they pulled away massively, the pair in a league of their own.

After loosing his clutch on the longest stage of the rally, the 30.69 kilometre Silves/Ourique 2 test, he battled through the final two stages miraculously winning the next stage and falling a close second on the last test of leg 2. Hughes only lost a tiny 20 seconds arriving late from service after his crew did a superb job in the frantic rush to change the clutch in his Ford Fiesta ST.

Day 3 saw a revitalised Hughes take a whopping 34.2 seconds out of Clark, closing the gap to within striking distance with two proper stages of the rally remaining.

Unfortunately for Hughes the final gravel test was yellow flagged denying the opportunity to challenge for overall honours in the hotly contested FSTi category. Hughes entertained the 20,000 plus spectators inside the international Algarve Stadium for one last time to end the event on a high and valuable second place points for the championship.

Simon Hughes said:

"We were on the charge this morning and it was great to take some time back out of Barry (Clark) and show we can drive at a winning pace. It was just a shame we had those few little problems and the cancelled stage at the end, otherwise it would have been a great battle right to the finish. We did the last two stages yesterday with no clutch and had to change it in service last night.

As a result we had a few little things to fix in the morning and lost 20 seconds for being two minutes late from service. It is great for the championship that the times were so close, it should be a good battle in future rallies. I’m really happy to have won some stages and finish in second, so close to first, this puts us second in the championship now which is great." 

 

Championship Standings after round 2 of 7

1 CLARK GBR 10 10 20

4 HUGHES GBR 5 8 13

2 VERTUNOV RUS 8 5 13

5 BARANAUSKAS LIT DNF 6 6

3 BIELTVEDT NOR 6 - 6

6 BARBATI ITA - -

7 MONTEIRO POR - -

 

- Inside Line -

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01.04.2007 / MaP

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