Flodin back on top at Rally de España

Flodin back on top at Rally de EspañaFrom WRC Promoter [ 23/10/2011 ].
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2010 PWRC runner-­‐up Patrik Flodin (SWE, Subaru, Michelin) and his co-­‐driver Göran Bergsten successfully drove their Michelin-­‐shod Subaru Impreza to victory on the sixth and penultimate event of the 2011 FIA Production car World Rally Championship at Rallye de España this weekend.

After a promising second place at Rally Australia in August, Michal Kościuszko (POL, Mitsubishi) hoped to claim his maiden PWRC win on Spanish soil. The Pole set the bar high by storming through the first stage of the rally but Flodin was more than happy to rise to the challenge. Renowned for his speed on gravel, the Swede blasted through the dust and, even with his engine running on only two cylinders on SS5, the last stage of the opening day, he was able to build a 35.9 seconds lead over second placed Kościuszko, sealing four stage wins in the process. Eager to get his first PWRC victory and take advantage of Flodin’s lack of confidence on Tarmac, Kościuszko flew through Day Two stages and closed the gap to 2.9 seconds by the end of the morning loop. Kościuszko was motivated to pass his rival on the afternoon stages but when he had to slow down after losing the brakes on SS12 his challenge for victory was postponed until the final day of the rally. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be for the 2009 JWRC runner-up. Flodin was back on the pace on Day Three with his confidence high. He succeeded in keeping his rival behind him, but never to be defeated, Kościuszko showed phenomenal speed on the Spanish Tarmac and put Flodin under pressure until the very end. The two rivals were 2.3 seconds apart going into the Power Stage but it wasn’t enough for Kościuszko.

Encouraged by his fourth place at Rally Australia, Benito Guerra’s (MEX, Mitsubishi) aim for the weekend was at least to equal that result. After a promising performance on Day One, the Mexican focused on getting through the Tarmac stages unperturbed. He picked up a puncture on SS7, losing three minutes to change it, but was delighted that his pace wasn’t far off the frontrunners’, on SS9 even completing the stage 0.1 seconds behind newly crowned PWRC Champion* and stage winner Hayden Paddon (NZL, Subaru). Guerra set consistently strong stage times during the last day of the rally and successfully claimed the last spot on the podium, his best result to date.

Bader Al Jabri’s (ARE, Subaru) weekend was haunted by tyre wear problems and lack of grip but the young Abu Dhabian was keen to bring home a good result. Consistency ruled throughout the rally and with Tarmac not being his favourite surface Al Jabri was overjoyed to finish fourth, his best PWRC result so far.

After retiring on the opening day of the rally due to a broken suspension arm on his Mitsubishi Lancer and suffering gearbox problems on Day Two, Ukrainian driver Olexsandr Saliuk (Mitsubishi) drove an otherwise uneventful rally, to finish fifth in the PWRC. With his regular co-driver Rub Garcia stuck in Argentina due to a volcanic ash cloud caused an eruption in Chile, Peruvian driver Nicol Fuchs (Mitsubishi) had to find a replacement at the very last minute, choosing WRC Academy Spanish co-driver, Candido Carrera. Immediately in sync with one another, the pair were delighted to finish sixth on their first outing together.

Paddon had a difficult start this weekend. His Impreza wouldn’t start at morning service on the opening day due to throttle related electrical problems. Incurring 30 minutes of time penalties the Kiwi driver started Day Two in 14th place in the PWRC field but with his Impreza back on form he reminded everybody of his unquestionable pace by winning nine of the 12 stages he contested and eventually finished eight.

* subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA

Driver quotes

“This is fantastic! It’s been a difficult season for me, so a victory here is great. I’ve found the Tarmac stages harder but I kept pushing and I will always give 100%. Now I would like another win in GB.”

“I'm very happy. Now I will fight for the position of PWRC runner-up in GB. Paddon took the title in Australia, but there is still a lot to play for, I'm not giving up!”

“I'm really happy. It's my first podium in the PWRC, I've been working for this since the start of the year. We were really close in Portugal and again in Argentina, but we had problems with our car both times. Now we have a really good car. It's my best result ever in the WRC and within a podium under my belt now I can start thinking about winning an event - that's my next goal!”