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JUNIOR WRC NEWS FLASH: 2018 RALLY DE PORTUGAL, SECTION THREE

As the FIA Junior World Rally Championship crews experience gravel for the first time this year, Dennis Rådström leads another close battle – with just five seconds in hand over fellow Swede Emil Bergkvist.

Estonia’s Ken Torn is a further 12.7 seconds behind in third, with Callum Devine and David Holder holding fourth and fifth places respectively.

Known for their unforgiving nature, the Portuguese stages have not disappointed and proved a tough challenge this weekend. But as the leaders gave the terrain the respect it deserved, yet another epic battle emerged.

Bergkvist was the early leader with five stage wins to his name, but Rådström kept in touch – a fastest time of his own on SS6 helping him edge ahead on the final speed test. Torn set the fastest time through both Porto stages (SS8 and SS9 – sharing the SS8 win with Luca Bottarelli).

Further down the field, the stages claimed a number of victims. Emilio Fernández and Jean-Baptiste Franceschi were the first to fall – forced to retire for the day with broken drive-shafts on SS2.

Terry Folb was next to hit trouble. After suffering from suspected overheating through Thursday’s Super Special, an impressive show of speed was cut short with engine issues on SS3 and the Frenchman will go no further this weekend.

Next to bite the dust was Germany’s Julius Tannert – taking a wheel off his Ford Fiesta R2 towards the end of SS4.

Bugra Banaz lost 50 seconds when going off the road on the first corner of the day, followed by a double puncture on SS5. Despite falling more than 12 minutes adrift of the leader, he completed all of the day’s stages.

Luca Bottarelli also survived a drive shaft issue in the morning as well as a broken gear lever on the first stage of the afternoon (SS5). And Umberto Accornero recovered from a puncture on SS6.

Dennis Rådström (1st) said:

“It’s been a very good day and we’re in first place which is always a great feeling! Tomorrow we would like to keep going like this. I think we found a good pace this afternoon and we would like to continue that. For sure it will be a tough challenge, but let’s see what we can do.”

Emil Bergkvist (2nd) said:

“Overall I’m very happy with my day. It’s been a tough fight with Dennis and Ken – and I just lost the lead on the last stage. There’s still a long way to go and we will keep pushing tomorrow.”

Ken Torn (3rd) said:

“Our day has been quite good. The second loop was quite hard so we took it a little bit slower. The most important thing is that we are here at the end of the day and that we will be back in business tomorrow!”

 

RALLY DE PORTUGAL CLASSIFICATION, SECTION THREE:

1. Dennis Rådström / Johan Johansson 1:52:35.7
2. Emil Bergkvist / Joakim Sjöberg +5.0
3. Ken Torn / Kuldar Sikk +17.7
4. Callum Devine / Brian Hoy +41.8
5. David Holder / Jason Farmer +4:24.2
6. Tom Williams / Phil Hall +6:52.9
7. Enrico Oldrati / Danilo Fappani +6:59.5
8. Luca Bottarelli / Manuel Fenoli +7:47.6
9. Bugra Banaz / Burak Erdener +12:26.2
10. Umberto Accornero / Barone Maurizio +17:14.8
11. Julius Tannert / Jürgen Heigl +35:34.7
12. Jean-Baptiste Franceschi / Romain Courbon +49:24.0