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Gustavo Saba dominates Rally de la República. Fabian Kreim claims third successive Rallye Stemweder Berg victory. Anthony Puppo wins two French Cup rallies in two days. One-Two wins for ŠKODA FABIA R5 at four French Rally Cup events during one weekend.

Gustavo Saba claims Rally de la República win to extend Paraguayan championship lead

The Paraguayan Rally Championship resumed last weekend with its fourth round, the Rally de la República - Caaguazu (23rd to 25th June), and there was another victory for Gustavo Saba, the reigning champion and current championship leader.

Saba, who was driving a FABIA R5 for his own Saba Competicion team alongside co-driver Fernando Mussano, finished 2 minutes 15 seconds ahead of his closest rival. He was always in control, leading comfortably after the opening day after winning all six special stages in what was a dominant performance from the reigning Paraguayan and CODASUR champion.

Miguel 'Miki' Zaldivar / Edgardo Galindo, ŠKODA FABIA R5. Rally de la Republica 2017

That dominance continued on the second day, with Saba only dropping one stage (SS10), where fellow FABIA R5 driver Miguel "Miki" Zaldivar managed to edge him out. But despite this small setback, Saba closed out victory to secure his third win of the season and extend his championship lead.

As well as claiming a single stage victory, the FABIA R5 of Miguel "Miki" Zaldivar / Edgar Galindo also managed to comfortably secure the runners up spot behind Saba. In the end, they finished more than 3 minutes ahead of their closest challengers.

The next round of the Paraguayan Rally Championship will be the Rally del Alto Paraná from 28th to 30th July.

Fabian Kreim wins the Rallye Stemweder Berg to close the gap in German championship

The Rallye Stemweder Berg (23rd to 24th June) was the fifth round of the German Rally Championship and saw Fabian Kreim’s dominance of his national championship continue.

Kreim and co-driver Frank Christian, driving for the ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland team, claimed their fourth victory of the season and third successive victory at this event. But they didn’t have it all their own way, slipping to fourth place at the end of special stage 3 and ending the first leg in second place overall.

Fabian Kreim / Frank Christian, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland. Rallye Stemweder Berg 2017

But they regained the lead on the opening stage of the second leg and a total of eight fastest times in fifteen stages helped them to hold off the stern challenge of championship rival René Mandel to win by a margin of 9.3 seconds.

Fabian Kreim

With points scored for overall victory and winning the power stage, Kreim now sits just three points behind Mandel in the overall championship standings.

Dominik Dinkel / Christina Kohl, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Brose Motorsport. Rallye Stemweder Berg 2017

There was another FABIA R5 on the podium in third place too, as the Brose Motorsport pairing of Dominik Dinkel / Christina Kohl put in another strong performance in their car prepared and run by the BRR Baumschlager Rallye & Racing team. The result was their third podium finish of the season and sees them sitting in third place in the German Rally Championship standings.

The next round of the German Rally Championship will be the Thüringen Rallye on 4th and 5th August.

Bryan Bouffier finishes second at the Ypres Rally

For the first time in its history, the Ypres Rally (23rd to 24th June) was part of both the Belgian (sixth round) and British (fourth round) rally championships and there was no shortage of excitement in either championship.

However, the best placed FABIA R5 was actually not entered in either championship. That was the French duo of Bryan Bouffier / Gilbert Dini, who came home in second place overall, just 8 seconds behind the winner. Remarkably, Bouffier, whose FABIA R5 was prepared and run by the Bernard Munster Autosport (BMA) team, was driving his first ever rally in the car and impressed throughout.

Bryan Bouffier / Gilbert Dini, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Bryan Bouffier. Ypres Rally 2017

He won a total of seven special stages and also led the overall standings after the opening stage and between stages 6 and 11. But for time lost on stage 12, Bouffier might have topped the podium, as he finished every other stage in the top 3 places, but in the end, after a great battle with Kevin Abbring, he had to be satisfied with runners-up spot.

Just behind Bouffier, in third place overall and second in the Belgian championship standings, was the current Belgian championship leader Vincent Verschueren. Along with co-driver Veronique Hostens, Verschueren was driving a FABIA R5 in the Duindistel colours, but prepared and run by the GoDrive team, who are based in Ypres.

Vincent Verschueren / Veronique Hostens, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Duindistel. Ypres Rally 2017

They started slowly, but were up to third place by the end of the first day and held that position throughout second leg, when they also managed to secure one stage victory. As Verschueren was not counting this event towards the championship, he was content with the result.

Vincent Verschueren

Further down the field there was an eighth place finish overall and fourth in the Belgian championship standings for Kris Princen / Peter Kaspers in their FABIA R5, prepared and run by the BMA team. They still sit second in the championship standings.

Hermen Kobus and Erik de Wild, in a FABIA R5 of the Kobus Tuning team, ended up finishing fifth overall, but they were also not entered into either of the two national championships. They did however earn good points towards the Benelux Rally Trophy standings. They too made a slow start but climbed through the field. Towards the end of the second leg they enjoyed a great battle with Giandomenico Basso, and ended up pipping him to fifth spot by just 1.7 seconds on the final stage of the rally.

Hermen Kobus / Erik de Wild, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Kobus Tuning. Ypres Rally 2017

In the British Championship standings, Fredrik Åhlin / Torstein Eriksen, driving FABIA R5 prepared and run by the CA1 Sport team, were the highest placed finishers. They were sixth in the British standings, but twenty-seventh overall. Åhlin was leading the British standings before a crash on the final stage of the opening leg forced him to retire. He restarted the following day and climbed back through the field to nonetheless earn some important points. However, the result means he slips back to second in the British championship standings, albeit just three points adrift of the new leader.

The next round of the Belgian Rally Championship will be the Omloop van Vlaanderen which takes place on 1st and 2nd September. Meanwhile, the British Rally Championship resumes with the Nicky Grist Stages 100 on 8th and 9th July.

Two days, two rallies and two victories for Anthony Puppo in the French Cup

Anthony Puppo has been having a remarkable season by anyone’s standard, but this weekend saw him hitting new heights, as he competed in two rallies located 600 km apart and taking place on consecutive days and managed to win them both.

His weekend began at the Rallye Régional du Brionnais, which took place on Saturday (24th June) on narrow bumpy roads in the Bourgogne region of eastern central France. Driving a ŠKODA FABIA R5 for the SJ-3P team, Puppo and co-driver Matthieu Belhacene claimed victory by a margin of 12.5 seconds.

Another FABIA R5 driven by Thierry Monnet / Cédric Hugonnot finished the event in second place to secure a One-Two win for ŠKODA.

Anthony Puppo / Matthieu Belhacene, ŠKODA FABIA R5. Rallye du Brionnais 2017 (Photo: Vincent Voirin "Bouba")

With one win under his belt, Puppo then embarked on a 600 km overnight drive across the country to take part in the Rallye Régional du Sidobre (25th June), which took place in Lacrouzette in the south of France on a wholly different course consisting of wide open roads.

And the perfect weekend continued for him with a second victory in two days. Accompanied this time by co-driver Jérémy Cenci, he finished 1 minute and 5 seconds ahead of his closest rivals.

Anthony Puppo

Puppo has already driven in a remarkable fourteen rallies in just five months in what is his debut season in a FABIA R5. Even more astonishingly, he has won nine of them and only missed the podium once (and that was due to an accident). His debut in the French Tarmac Championship at the Rallye d'Antibes - Côte d'Azur saw him claim victory by 28.3 seconds and no-one would want to bet against him repeating that result in the next round too.

NEWS IN BRIEF

The Rallye National Savoie – Chautagne (23rd to 24th June) in the French Rally Cup saw reigning French Tarmac Rally Champion Sylvain Michel claim the first victory in overall classification of his career, driving a FABIA R5 prepared and run by the 2C Compétition team and for the first time co-driven by Anthony Gorguilo. Michel’s victory was never in doubt as he won all nine special stages and led from start to finish, ending up 2 minutes and 17 seconds ahead of another FABIA R5 of Romain Guillerot / Matthieu Bole-Richard, who finished second in their debut drive in the car, and also incurred a 40 second penalty after arriving 4 minutes late to a time control.

There was another One-Two win for FABIA R5 at another French Cup event, the Rallye Régional des Vins de Chinon et du Véron (24th June). This time Team FJ cars dominated the leaderboard, with Pierre Roché / Christophe Baudry taking victory by 31.9 seconds from team-mates Jérôme Galpin / Anne Galpin. “It was a good rally and a great training for our next championship rally in two weeks,” said Pierre Roché at the finish. “Our FABIA R5 was perfect and our good start allowed us to secure a margin on our competitors and then manage the gap to the end. I’m really happy for my co-driver Christophe winning at home in just his second rally ever!”

The Rallye National du Gard - Alès Agglomération (24th to 25th June) was another French Cup event which saw FABIA R5’s domination. This time the car crossing the line first was driven by Mathieu Arzeno / Romain Roche (Rally Service Racing). They finished 29.5 seconds ahead of fellow FABIA R5 crew of Thibault Habouzit / Fiona Perraud (3D Autos).

The Raven's Rock Stages Rally (25th June) was the fifth round of the Irish National Rally Championship and saw Brendan Cumiskey / Ronan O'Kane finish in fourth place overall, but first in the R5 class in their FABIA R5.

In the third round of the Italian WRC Championship (CIWRC), the Rally della Marca Trevigiana (24th to 25th June), FABIA R5s managed to finish first and second in the R5 class. Efrem Bianco / Dino Lamonato, driving for the DP Autosport team, finished fifth overall, but first in the R5 class. They now lead the championship standings in their category. Just behind them in the championship is fellow FABIA R5 and DP Autosport driver Ilario Bondioni, who finished eighth overall in this rally, but second in the R5 class.

Also in Italy, at the Rally di Caltanissetta (24th to 25th June)  in the Italian regional series (Zone 8), Francesco Laganà / Elena Giovenale finished in third place overall in their debut drive in a FABIA R5 of the Colombi Racing team.

COMING UP THIS WEEKEND

Date Rally Surface
29 June - 2 July Rally Poland World Rally C’ship Round 8 Gravel
1 - 2 July Rally Bohemia Czech Rally C’ship Round 5 Asphalt
30 June - 2 July Pearl of Africa Uganda Rally African Rally C’ship Round 4 Gravel
1 - 2 July Rallye Terre de Langres Haute-Marne French Gravel Rally C’ship Round 4 Gravel
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