Rali Rota do Dão is once more the decisive event
The National Rali Championship is coming to its end with next weekends (16/17 November) final event - the Rali Rota do Dão run in the Viseu region. The Peugeot Esso Silver Team SG has already guaranteed the Constructors Championship title. All eyes will be on their drivers, Adruzilo Lopes and Miguel Campos, in this ultimate and exciting last chance to decide the title.
The rally has a total of 12 special stages, equaling an amount of 106,8 kilometers divided in two separate sections. The first one is run between Viseu and S. Pedro do Sul, with a double round through Carvalhais/Serra de Arada, São Macário /Sul and Sul/Figueiredo de Alva, a total of 48,2 kilometers. During the afternoon, the pack returns to Viseu making double passage through Senhora do Castelo, Vouzela and Muna, running another 58,6 kilometers up until the final control in Feira de S. Mateurs, finalizing another National Rali Championship.
The Peugeot Esso Silver Team will total with the "Rota do Dão", their 62nd official participation and counts on crowning Adruzilo Lopes /Luis Lisboa with their third absolute title. At the same time, they look to assure Miguel Campos/Carlos Magalhães the runner-up title for this year's Championship. In the farewell rally for the pair Adruzilo /Lisboa, this would undoubtedly be the most positive solution to terminate the 2001 season, with a total of six seasons and 21 victories for the Peugeot Portugal Team.
Having won the Rali Rota do Dão four times with the pair Lopes/ Lisboa, this event will once more be the decisive point for the atribuition of the four top positions in the Drivers Championship, even though the battle will only determine the ordenation of the overall standing, since only the Peugeot 206 WRC drivers may attain the Championship standings.
Adruzilo Lopes, who currently holds the fourth position in the European Rally Championship, and has already won this year the West European Rally FIA Cup, holds an obvious advantage to the rest, with an 8-point advantage to teammate Miguel Campos, but holds a safe distance to Rui Madeira and Pedro Chaves.
Miguel Campos has a 6-point advantage to the Ford Driver, being able still to control him for the second position. Peugeot's second driver has an additional 9 points over Pedro Chaves and must score in this last event to guarantee his goal in case the Toyota driver wins the Rali Rota do Dão. In this case, to untie the standing is quite an advantage to the Peugeot 206 WRC driver. The gap between Rui Madeira and Pedro Matos Chaves is small, with just a mere four points separating them. With this in mind, anything can happen in this rally, where a punctured tyre can put a fatal end to the ambitions of the four fighting drivers, seeing the short length of the special stages will limit the chance at recovering positions, forcing the lead drivers to a certain amount of risk.
Team manager for the Peugeot Esso Silver Team SG, Carlos Barros, believes the Rali Rota do Dão will be an extremely tactical event for the Peugeot 206 WRC drivers, as he explains: "There is a need for the people evolved in rallies to understand that in first place, one needs to guard the interests of the Team and of the Constructor that we represent. Attaining the maximum score in the Algarve rally put Miguel Campos in an excellent position to fight for the runner up position in Viseu. The Team reinforces its main objectives and keeps its word. We want Adruzilo to conquer his third Championship title and Miguel end the Championship in second position, offering Peugeot a glorious result".
Just as Carlos Barros, the rest of the Peugeot Team and its sponsors, ambition the titles for their drivers: "Everybody in the team will work toward that goal, but it is truly up to the drivers to assume that responsibility, being it in the tyer choice, or the rhythm they chose to impose. One little slip up can mean losing everything. It is important that our drivers are calm and concentrate, so unnecessary risks won't be taken".
Adruzilo Lopes, who will perform his last participation as an official Peugeot driver, remarks: "It will be a sprint rally, due to the characteristics and the extension of the stages, therefore I would of preferred to win the Championship in Algarve, so I could be worry-free for this rally. Moreover, we are in a privileged situation, holding a comfortable advantage to implant a good rhythm to conquer the Tri", commented the Portuguese driver, who needs to end the Rali Rota do Dão at least in fifth to conquer his third absolute title during his 6 years at Peugeot.
Miguel Campos finds himself completely adapted to his Peugeot 206 WRC, surely proven by his two recent consecutive victories both in Espinho and Algarve: "I hope to hold the second position in the Championship, which will undoubtedly be a gratifying award, especially since Madeira and Chaves have had more chances at the runner-up position, due to my absence in 4 events. I am fully prepared to fight for the title this weekend and cooperate with the Team's goals. They all know that they can count on us".
In a Championship reserved solely for constructors, as Peugeot guaranteed it third "double" win this year in the Rali Casinos do Algarve; the Team confirmed it's virtual title. A just prize for the enormous contribution of the French make.
With 78 points before the last rally, Peugeot has distanced from the pack in the fight for the championship lead, commanding with a 34 point advantage to Ford and a 39 point advantage to Mitsubishi, still being there a chance that the Japanese make battle a ruthless fight for the runner-up position.
-Peugeot Esso Silver Team SG -