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RÅDSTRÖM SECURES DOMINANT PORTUGUESE VICTORY

Hosting the first gravel event of this year’s FIA Junior World Rally Championship, Vodafone Rally de Portugal proved the toughest test yet, but one driver didn’t put a foot wrong – Dennis Rådström claiming his second victory of the year with a commanding performance behind the wheel of the Pirelli-shod one-litre EcoBoost Ford Fiesta R2.

Getting the balance between speed and caution just right through the challenging terrain, Rådström and co-driver Johan Johansson were in a class of their own – posting three fastest times on their way to an awe-inspiring victory; almost 15 minutes ahead of their closest rival.

Callum Devine had been holding second place but when the Irishman retired with broken steering on Luilhas (SS18), Enrico Oldrati claimed the position. Delivering an impressive result on what is only his fourth ever rally, the Italian’s intelligent approach paid dividends – his eagerness to learn rewarded with a sensational maiden podium.

Also securing his maiden podium, David Holder brought his Fiesta home in third place. The New Zealander has had to overcome his fair share of troubles this weekend, and arguably produced the save of the rally.

Having rolled his Fiesta through the first pass of Amarante (SS12), he also retired on yesterday’s final stage (SS15) with a broken driveshaft. Determined to the last, he didn’t give up and comes away from Rally de Portugal with a career-best result.

Dennis Rådström (1st) said:

“It’s been a fantastic weekend for us. We didn’t expect to win this one, but I think we drove a really clever rally. We had good pace, but we were also focused on taking care of the car. I’m really proud of what we achieved and want to thank the organisers for a fantastic event – I have made some memories here that I will remember forever.”

Enrico Oldrati (2nd) said:

“I’m really happy about the final result – I didn’t expect it but here we are! We started slowly and then step by step we made progress. I would like to thank everyone from M-Sport Poland, especially the mechanics. The car was great and the Pirelli tyres performed very well. I would also like to thank my father and my coach for leading me here.”

David Holder (3rd) said:

“It’s great to be here in podium position but I don’t think we can call it a perfect result. I knew it would be a battle with the conditions here, but certainly not to this extent. We had ambitions of securing a top-five result, so third place is amazing”

FIA Junior World Rally Championship Manager, Maciej Woda, said:

“This has definitely been the most challenging event so far for the Junior crews. The conditions were extremely rough and almost everyone made a mistake along the way – everyone except Dennis and Johan. They produced a fantastic performance this weekend. They were fast, but they were also careful to look after the car. It was a very clever drive from them, and a thoroughly deserved victory.”

 

ELSEWHERE IN THE FIELD: CREW BY CREW

Bugra Banaz (4th):

Bugra Banaz secured his pre-rally target of a top-five finish – bringing his Fiesta home in fourth place overall. Losing 50 seconds when going off the road on the first corner of Friday morning (SS2), the Turkish driver also picked up a double puncture on SS5 followed by another puncture on SS15.

“We’re happy we managed to finish the rally and bring the car home in fourth position. We were expecting to finish in the top-five, so we’re happy to achieve our goal and still be in one piece.”

Emil Bergkvist (5th):

One of the favourites going into this event, Emil Bergkvist was locked in another intense battle for the win with fellow Swede Dennis Rådström. Piloting his Fiesta to nine fastest stage times, Bergkvist was on course for a strong result before rolling out of the lead on SS12. Recovering to fifth place overall, the Swede has climbed into second place in the championship standings.

“In one way I actually feel quite good about this rally because we showed that we had very good pace. Of course yesterday it was a big shame as there was nothing I could do – I was just like a passenger in the car – but the M-Sport Poland mechanics did a great job to get us back on the stages today. I’m happy with my co-driver’s work and the way the car performed, so now I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Luca Bottarelli (6th):

Luca Bottarelli survived an eventful Rally de Portugal. Nursing a driveshaft issue through Friday morning’s stages, he also had to manage a broken gear lever on SS5. Hitting a rock on SS13, the Italian broke the intercooler but returned under Rally 2 regulations to claim sixth place overall. A joint fastest time through SS8 also added an additional point to his championship tally.

“It’s been a very, very difficult rally but we are happy to finish. Yesterday we had a crash but we returned today to complete the stages.”

Tom Williams (7th):

Tom Williams was running as high as sixth overall before rolling his Fiesta on SS12. Returning under Rally 2 regulations, the Brit recovered from another low-speed roll on SS16 and brought his Fiesta home in seventh position.

“It’s been a great and crazy rally. There were some ups and downs but we got a lot of experience from that. If I had been cleaner with my driving we could have been second, so that was a shame, but it was definitely a crazy rally.”

Umberto Accornero (8th):

Experiencing the tricky Rally de Portugal stages for the first time this weekend, Umberto Accornero picked up a puncture which damaged the suspension on SS6. The Italian suffered another puncture on SS11, and damaged the steering of his Fiesta on SS13. Returning under Rally 2 regulations, he completed the event in eighth place.

“It was a very tough rally – physically as we had to change tyres many times. I didn’t expect this rally to be so demanding, and the nature of the stages was pretty hard for us.”

Jean-Baptiste Franceschi (9th):

Forced to retire from Friday’s competition with a broken driveshaft on SS2, Jean-Baptiste Franceschi completed the event under Rally 2 regulations – the Tour de Corse winner bringing his Fiesta home in ninth position.

“I think our result is okay. We have been learning all weekend and we are still third in the championship which is good. We need to train before Rally Finland to be ready for the next one.”

Julius Tannert (10th):

Julius Tannert was holding a top-five position before suffering a broken suspension on SS4. Returning under Rally 2 regulations, the German picked up a puncture through Saturday’s final stage (SS14) and damaged the turbo pipe over the second pass of the famous Fafe jump (SS20). A fastest time on SS14 proved that his speed was there.

“We managed bring it to the finish, but it’s not the result we were expecting. We wanted to fight for the podium, but in the end it’s not such a good position that we come away with. Now we just have to look forward to the next one.”

Emilio Fernández (11th):

Breaking a driveshaft on SS2, Emilio Fernández had to forgo the majority of Friday’s stages. The Chilean returned under Rally 2 regulations and completed the rally.

“We expected more from this rally. In Finland we will have to try and get a better result.”

Callum Devine (DNF):

Despite losing time with a puncture on SS15, Callum Devine was on course for second place at this weekend’s Rally de Portugal. His clever strategy was paying dividends until he got caught out on SS18 – forced to retire with damage to his Fiesta’s steering.

“I don’t know exactly what happened, I think I just out-braked myself – it was a small mistake with big consequences. But generally speaking the rally was good, and it was definitely a big learning curve for us. The stages were really rough and we were trying our best – just that small mistake meant that it was game over.”

Ken Torn (DNF):

More accustomed to driving on gravel, Ken Torn was amongst the front runners before a broken driveshaft on SS13 dropped him out of the podium positions. Recovering through the final stages, the Estonian was on course to secure a good haul of points before rolling out of the rally on SS17. Three fastest times through the stages provided some championship points as consolation.

“It has been a nice rally and I’m happy with my speed and stage times. But today, because of my mistake, the rally was completely over before the finish line.”

Terry Folb (DNF):

Terry Folb’s Rally de Portugal came to an early end on Friday morning. Having lost 30 seconds with an overheating issue on Thursday’s opener, the Frenchman was then forced to retire with engine troubles on SS3.

“I had two good rallies in Sweden and Corsica, but this one didn’t go our way. We had some bad luck this weekend, but that’s the part of the game.”

 

RALLY DE PORTUGAL CLASSIFICATION:

1. Dennis Rådström / Johan Johansson 4:26:51.2
2. Enrico Oldrati / Danilo Fappani +14:57.8
3. David Holder / Jason Farmer +17:27.3
4. Bugra Banaz / Burak Erdener +24:58.7
5. Emil Bergkvist / Joakim Sjöberg +27:10.1
6. Luca Bottarelli / Manuel Fenoli +27:42.7
7. Tom Williams / Phil Hall +43:42.7
8. Umberto Accornero / Barone Maurizio +49:54.2
9. Jean-Baptiste Franceschi / Romain Courbon +50:10.4
10. Julius Tannert / Jürgen Heigl +58:52.2
11. Emilio Fernández / Joaquin Riquelme +1:00:28.1

 

RALLY DE PORTUGAL STAGE WINS:

Emil Bergkvist - 9
Dennis Rådström - 3
Ken Torn - 3
Julius Tannert - 1
Luca Bottarelli - 1

 

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

1. Dennis Rådström - 74
2. Emil Bergkvist - 57
3. Jean-Baptiste Franceschi - 47
4. Terry Folb - 30
5. Luca Bottarelli - 20
6. Julius Tannert - 19
7. Enrico Oldrati - 18
8. Callum Devine - 18
9. David Holder - 17
10. Bugra Banaz - 16
11. Ken Torn - 15
12. Emilio Fernández - 8
13. Tom Williams - 7
14. Umberto Accornero - 4