Tempestini wins Juniors

Tempestini wins JuniorsFrom Citroen Press [ 03/07/2016 ].
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Winners at the opening round in Portugal, Simone Tempestini and Giovanni Bernacchini made it two out of two as they claimed victory on the Rally Poland stages. Thanks to their perfect start to the season, the Italians have opened up a clear lead in the championship standings. Terry Folb and Franck Le Floch confirmed themselves as the leading crew's closest challengers with a second podium finish.

The first bit of drama at this year's Rally Poland occurred during the shakedown, when Martin Koci went off the road, throwing his car into a spectacular series of rolls. The car was too badly damaged and the crew were forced to retire before even starting the race.

Winner of Thursday evening's super special stage, Andrea Crugnola grabbed the early lead. Clearly determined to make up for the points lost in Portugal, the Italian kept up his good form on Friday morning. After another two stage wins, he continued to lead the category, ahead of Ole Christian Veiby and Simone Tempestini.

Crugnola's hopes of victory nevertheless evaporated on SS4: his car's radiator broke after landing a jump, leaving him with no option but to retire. This stage was also difficult for Lukasz Pieniazek. The Pole lost more than a minute after going off the road. Veiby therefore became the new leader, just a tenth of a second ahead of Tempestini! On SS5, however, the Italian bettered Veiby's time, meaning he held the lead as the crews headed for the mid-leg service. Veiby was second, ahead of Folb, Al Mutawaa, Dubert, Martel and Pieniazek.

Tempestini then racked up three stage wins on Friday afternoon to build a slender lead over Veiby. By the end of the day, the Norwegian trailed by 12.8s. Despite picking up a puncture on SS9, Terry Folb held firm in third place, twenty-odd seconds ahead of Vincent Dubert and over a minute clear of Romain Martel. The afternoon proved more difficult for Mohamed Al Mutawaa (broken clutch following an off) and Lukasz Pieniazek (transmission). Like Crugnola, these drivers still decided to rejoin the race the following day under Rally2 rules.

Saturday's leg was something of a marathon, with seven stages contested with no service period, just a mid-leg tyre change zone. Veiby started the day with a stage win on SS11, but he damaged his rear axle on the next test. Two stage wins later, Tempestini had extended his lead to 42.5s! Behind Terry Folb, still driving consistently well, Romain Martel moved up into fourth place after Vincent Dubert was handed time penalties for arriving late at a time control for one of the stages. Pieniazek and Al Mutawaa were short on luck again; in spite of transmission issues, they were nonetheless a long way off the pace of the leaders. Andrea Crugnola, however, was forced to retire for a rather unusual reason. After losing six minutes with a puncture due to a broken jack, he was unable to change tyres in the mid-leg tyre change zone, again due to the faulty jack…

On his way back to Mikolajki, Ole Christian Veiby had to contend with a broken driveshaft. He was forced to relinquish second place to Terry Folb, who was over three minutes behind the leader! After resolving his gearbox issues, Lukasz Pieniazek produced an impressive performance to set the fastest time on SS16.

With such a healthy lead, Simone Tempestini had the relative luxury of taking it easy on the third and final leg. In conditions made especially difficult by the rain, he managed his lead to take victory by over three minutes from Terry Folb. Ole Christian Veiby claimed two stage wins on the final morning on his way to taking the last podium spot.

After closing to within 35s of Romain Martel half-way through the leg, Vincent Dubert had been looking to retake fourth place. However, the cancellation of S20 prevented him from achieving his target, meaning fourth place went to Normandy and fifth to Marseille! Lukasz Pieniazek and Mohamed Al Mutawaa rounded off the standings by scoring precious points.

"It was a good rally for us," commented Simone Tempestini at the finish. "Given the starting position of the FIA Junior WRC competitors, the conditions were more difficult to manage on the second runs, because some sections were in a terrible state. It would have been all too easy to damage the car or pick up a puncture. So I didn't push in the same way on all the stages and this strategy paid off. Having said that, our rivals had problems and that made our job that bit easier. I got my first rally win here last year, so it's great to do it again, especially after winning in Portugal. In Finland, my goal will be to pull clear because gravel is my preferred surface. If everything goes well, that will give me some leeway on the tarmac in Germany and Corsica."

PIERRE-LOUIS LOUBET SIXTH IN THE WRC2

On their first WRC2 rally in a DS 3 R5, Pierre-Louis Loubet (19 years old) and Vincent Landais produced a consistent performance, gradually improving as the event progressed. The crew finished in sixth place. The other DS 3 R5s competing didn't make it to the end: Yoann Bonato retired after going off the road, while Quentin Gilbert and Emil Bergkvist fell victim to mechanical issues.

STANDINGS*

RALLY POLAND
1. Tempestini / Bernacchini 3:04:11.3
2. Folb / Le Floch +3:22.3
3. Veiby / Skjaermoen +6:02.2
4. Martel / Lemoine +7:53.0
5. Dubert / Coria +8:58.4
6. Pieniazek / Mazur +32:00.6 7. Al Mutawaa / McAuley +53:59.3

FIA JUNIOR WRC CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Simone Tempestini 50 pts
2. Terry Folb 33 pts
3. Ole Christian Veiby 25 pts
4. Vincent Dubert 22 pts
5. Martin Koci and Romain Martel 18 pts
7. Mohamed Al Mutawaa 10 pts
8. Lukasz Pieniazek 9 pts
9. Frédéric Hauswald 8 pts
10. Andrea Crugnola 2 pts

* Unofficial standings, subject to ongoing scrutineering checks.