Skoda defends its lead in Valais

Skoda defends its lead in ValaisFrom Skoda Press [ 24/10/2014 ].
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ŠKODA has defended its lead at the “Rallye International du Valais“. On the second day of the penultimate race of the season of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC), the ŠKODA factory duo Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/FIN) took the lead. Sepp Wiegand/Frank Christian (D/D) from the ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland team, who had first place after the first of three rally days in the Swiss canton of Wallis, were set back due to tyre damage. The duo are now occupying fourth place, 1:16.2 minutes behind their Finnish team mates.

ERC front runner Lappi, who had already won the “Rallye International du Valais” in the previous year, was able to take a big step towards winning the European championship title with his victory on Saturday. “We are in the lead – and that’s really good. The Fabia Super 2000 has worked like Swiss clockwork yet again”, said the Finn. “It leaves us in a good starting position to build on Saturday. I don’t want to think about anything more than that quite yet, as we still have a long way to go with the final day.”

Less happy was Lappi’s ŠKODA mate Wiegand. The 23 year old German fell back in the rankings on Friday. Damage to his tyre on the tenth special stage was what caused the significant loss of time. “The flat tyre was just unfortunate”, said Wiegand. “I’m focusing on the positive aspects. The opportunity to get on the victory podium is still there. We will give it our all on Saturday.”

Participants will have to contend with numerous challenges during the final day of the “Rallye International du Valais”. More than half of the rally’s total distance is still to go. Eight special stages across 135.62 kilometres are on the programme, among them being the longest section: the 32.13 kilometre WP “Les Cols” on Saturday morning. The winner will be driving over the ramp at 17.30 at the CERM exhibition centre in Martigny.

The number of the day: 29.5

The “Rallye International du Valais” is similar to the legendary Monte Carlo Rally in more ways than just its track characteristics. The Swiss ERC track also shares an organisational feature, which is rather unusual nowadays, with the oldest rally in the world: just like the “Monte”, the teams at this Swiss rally have to change location during the event. While the service point was based at the former barracks of Sion up to Friday afternoon, the teams were pitching their tents at the exhibition centre CERM in Martigny from Friday evening onwards. The distance between the two locations is exactly 29.5 kilometres. The teams only had three hours to dismantle, reconstruct and transport themselves to the next service point.