Gallagher makes the difference with his Citroën C2-R2
At the end of a punishing Rally Portugal making its return to the World Championship this year after a five-year absence Irishman Shaun Gallagher, co-driven by Clive Jenkins, has claimed seventh place overall in the Junior Championship classification.
The result means that the Citroen C2-R2 driver scores points for the second rally in succession, following his eighth place in Norway last month, and it also makes him the most consistent finisher of the C2 Junior Experience after two rounds. This was despite a dramatic rally for him, which involved losing the key to his rally car before the start of day two! " It was a real panic at the time, but luckily it all ended up fine, " he said. " This was my first event with the C2-R2 on gravel, and I learnt a lot. It was a very rough route, but this is a robust little car: the only mechanical problem we had was a broken gear linkage on the second morning and a broken gearbox mount today. My aim was always to finish the events, and to have scored points on the two rallies we have completed so far is a great result. "
Zimbabwean Conrad Rautenbach was classified ninth, having re-started the final leg under super rally rules after retiring from leg two with a broken driveshaft. The C2 Super 1600 driver also had an adventurous rally, after damaging his car with an off-road excursion during the shakedown and going off as the result of a puncture on Friday morning. " It's not the result we wanted but at least we've shown we have the speed, " said Rautenbach. " Let's hope for better luck next time! "
By contrast, novice C2-R2 drivers Raphael Auquier and Dominique Rebout were both delighted to reach the finish of their first gravel World Championship rally in 11th and 13th places respectively. Not so lucky was Czech driver Martin Prokop, whose Citroen C2 Super 1600 was forced into retirement with a series of high- speed rolls on Friday's SS5. C2-R2 drivers Gilles Schammel and Stefano Benoni also failed to reach the finish as the result of off-road excursions.
Yves Matton, Citroen Sport's Customer Competition Manager concluded: "The Citroen C2 Super 1600 is competitive, but too many drivers are getting overexcited, as only about half our cars managed to finish. Shaun Gallagher has once again been fast and consistent, while the C2-R2 has demonstrated an impressive level of reliability on this tough gravel event. This makes it the perfect car with which to introduce drivers to the challenge of the Junior Championship. "