Bruno Magalhães podium at Rally di Roma Capitale keeps ERC title hopes alive
The Rally di Roma Capitale (14-17 September) was the seventh and penultimate round of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) and it saw ŠKODA FABIA R5 driver Bruno Magalhães remain in championship contention with a battling podium finish, while Jan Černý claimed his maiden win in the ERC Junior U28 standings.
Magalhães, alongside co-driver Hugo Magalhães, had a difficult start after spinning at the start of special stage 2 and had to reverse before being able to resume. The time lost meant he sat in ninth place at that point, but some fast times and a tweak to the setup of the car meant that he had climbed up to third place by the end of the first leg.
It was a position he held onto throughout the second leg despite coming under a bit of pressure from fellow FABIA R5 driver Grzegorz Grzyb from behind. But Magalhães held firm to ensure a podium finish and keep alive his hopes of being crowned European rally champion.
The result leaves Magalhães in second place in the overall ERC standings, 24 points behind the leader Kajetan Kajetanowicz, with one round remaining, the Rally Liepāja (6-8 October). With a maximum of 39 points available, Magalhães will need to win and for other results to go his way if he is going to crown an impressive season with a title victory.
Meanwhile, for the young Czech driver Jan Černý, who alongside co-driver Petr Černohorský, was competing for the ACCR Czech Team in a car prepared and run by Černý Racing, there was a first ever victory in the ERC Junior U28 category, along with a sixth-place finish overall.
With fellow FABIA R5 driver Marijan Griebel having already wrapped up the title, Černý was looking to build on a second place finish in the last round at the Barum Czech Rally Zlín. And he achieved that, finishing 45.2 seconds ahead of another FABIA R5 driver Nikolay Gryazin, who alongside co-driver Yaroslav Fedorov, was competing for the Sports Racing Technologies team. It did not go all his own way, with a spin on SS2 costing him time, but he dealt with every setback well, as a second-place finish on SS3 illustrates it and in the end, it was a deserved Junior U28 win.
Rufa Sport’s Polish pairing of Grzegorz Grzyb / Jakub Wróbel finished just off the podium in the fourth position in their FABIA R5. They started this rally strongly, but a couple of small incidents at the end of the first leg saw them sitting in fourth place overnight. Despite pushing Magalhães hard at the start of the second leg, it wasn’t to be and in the end, Grzyb was happy to settle for fourth place.
Nikolay Gryazin / Yaroslav Fedorov had to contend with a few problems towards the end of the first leg, which eventually resulted in a 40-second penalty for late arrival at a time control. Despite this, and difficulties with conditions at times, Gryazin was satisfied to have finished eighth overall and second in the ERC Junior U28 standings.
The other FABIA R5 to finish inside the top 10 was the Motorsport Italia car of Tonino Di Cosimo / Paolo Francescucci, which finished in tenth place overall.
2017 Rally di Roma Capitale
Umberto Scandola’s second places in Rome take Italian championship to the final round
The Rally di Roma Capitale (14-17 September) was also the seventh and penultimate round of the Italian Rally Championship (CIR), where there was another strong performance from the ŠKODA Italia Motorsport driver Umberto Scandola. With both legs as well as the overall result offering championship points, Scandola and his co-driver Guido D’Amore finished in second place in both legs after a closely fought battle with rival Simone Campedelli.
Scandola finished the first leg, which was driven in difficult conditions, just 0.3 seconds behind Campedelli but was left frustrated after special stage 6, the final stage of the leg, was cancelled. Initially, the ŠKODA Italia Motorsport team thought they had won, but as final times came out, it emerged they had fallen agonizingly short. It was a similar story in the second leg too as Scandola pushed for the win but always knew that a rash would mean the end of his title ambitions. In the end, he finished a close second again, with just 4.6 seconds separating him and Campedelli in the overall standings.
That final round will be the Rally Due Valli in Scandola’s hometown of Verona, which will take place from 13 to 15 October.
Hermen Kobus secures ONRK title at the Hellendoorn Rally
The Hellendoorn Rally (15-16 September), which was the fifth round of the Open Dutch Rally Championship (ONRK), is perhaps the most prestigious rally on the Dutch calendar. And this year saw two FABIA R5s finishing on the podium, with Herman Kobus securing the ONRK title as well.
Kobus finished in third place overall and second in the R5 standings in a Kobus Tuning FABIA R5 alongside co-driver Erik de Wild. They were more focused on the Open Dutch Rally Championship than the overall result. But, with all the cars home, Hermen Kobus has been crowned champion of the ONRK for 2017 as well as claiming victory in the R5 Challenge. For Kobus, who returned to Dutch events this year after competing in Belgium for a while, it was a very satisfying victory.
It was Bernhard ten Brinke who led the FABIA R5 challenge overall, finishing second overall and first in the R5 class in a FABIA R5 prepared and run by Wevers Sport. Alongside co-driver Davy Thierie, ten Brinke was competing in his first Dutch event of the year and only his second rally after the recent Rallye Deutschland in the World Rally Championship. But there were no signs of rustiness at what is his home rally, as an impressive and consistent drive in wet, slippery and changeable conditions saw ten Brinke finish almost a minute ahead of the rest of the field, with only a WRC powered car in front of him.
The FABIA R5 of Swedes Jörgen Jonasson / Nicklas Jonasson also finished strongly, in fifth place overall and fourth in the R5 class.
The last round of the Dutch Rally Championship will be the East Belgium Rally, which takes place on 29 and 30 September.
NEWS IN BRIEF
Gaurav Gill / Stéphane Prévot, driving a ŠKODA FABIA R5 prepared and run by Racetorque Engineering for the ŠKODA MRF team, won the Rally Hokkaido (15-17 September) in Japan, in the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) by a huge margin of 11 minutes 41 seconds. Their teammates Ole Christian Veiby / Stig Rune Skjærmoen won the opening stage but were forced to retire on SS3. They returned for the second leg and ended sixteenth overall and third in APRC standings. Gill now leads the APRC championship from Veiby, with both drivers still in title contention going into the final round at the India Rally.
At the Rally DETH (16-17 September), the fourth round of the Greek Rally Championship, Socratis Tsolakidis / Harris Dimos took victory by a margin of 4 minutes and 25 seconds in their FABIA R5 prepared and run by Eurosol Racing Team Hungary. It was their second win of the year.
The Shiraz International Rally (13-15 September) in Iran was the fifth and final round of the FIA Middle Eastern Rally Championship (MERC). And it saw a second place finish for Vojtěch Štajf / Markéta Skácelová, who were driving a FABIA R5 for the Spirit 21 team. In what was their debut drive in the MERC, they finished just 1 minute 30 seconds behind the eventual winner.
In Spain, Pedro Burgo / Marcos Burgo finished in second place at the Rally Princesa de Asturias - Ciudad de Oviedo (14-16 September), the sixth round of the Spanish Rally Championship. They were competing for the ACSM Rallye Team and the result lifts them to second in the championship standings with four rounds remaining.
Fredrik Åhlin has ended the season in British Rally Championship season in second place after the final round of the season, the Isle of Man Rally (14-16 September). The event, which was split into two rounds, saw Åhlin and his co-driver Torstein Eriksen finish third in both rounds, with title rival Keith Cronin securing two wins. That meant that the Scandinavian duo, who were driving a FABIA R5 prepared and run by CA1 Sport team, end the season as runners-up.
To Portugal and the Rali Além Mar - 39º Ilha Lilás (15-16 September), the sixth round of the Azores Rally Championship, where Tiago Azevedo / Mário Castro came home in third place in their FABIA R5, which was prepared and run by the AR Vidal team. It was their second podium finish of the season after another third-place finish at the Rali Sical.
In the French Cup there was a third successive victory - and fourth of the season - for Thibault Habouzit at the Rallye Régional des Camisards (16 September). Alongside co-driver Samuel Teissier, he finished 39.9 seconds ahead of his closest challenger to ensure that he maintains his record of a podium place in each of the seven rallies he has driven in a FABIA R5 this season. Kévin Constanty / Pauline Bardoux also finished the event in their first ever drive in a FABIA R5. They were in fifth position overall, but third in the R5 class.
At the Rallye National de Corte - Centre Corse (15-17 September), another French Cup event, Jean-Matthieu Leandri secured his second class win and third podium of the year in his FABIA R5. Alongside co-driver Anthony Gorguilo and in a car prepared and run by Team FJ, Leandri finished second overall and first in the R5 class. Just behind him in third position overall and second in the R5 standings were Paul Mariani / Jean-François Pergola, in a car prepared and run by the Rally Service Racing team.
And finally to Romania, where Dan Gîrtofan remains in contention for the Romanian championship title after his appeal against a 10-second penalty, which cost him victory at the Iasi Rally last weekend (7-9 September), was upheld. That means that Gîrtofan is now officially the winner of that event and the points earned leave him just 15 points behind Bogdan Marisca in the championship standings. That means there will be an exciting championship decider at the final event of the year, the Raliul Sibiului (7-8 October). Gîrtofan needs to take the win and hope that Marisca finishes no higher than fourth if he is to be named Romanian rally champion for the third time.
COMING UP THIS WEEKEND
|22-23 Sep||Rally Hedemarken||Norwegian Rally C’ship||Round 7||Gravel|
|22-23 Sep||Rali de Mortágua||Portuguese Rally C’ship||Round 8||Gravel|
|23 Sep||Bushwhacker Rally||Northern Irish Rally C’ship||Round 6||Gravel|