Action-Packed S-Wrc Sees Fiesta S2000 Secure Two Podium Spots
This weekend’s Acropolis Rally of Greece saw two Ford Fiesta S2000 crews on the podium in the Super 2000 World Rally Championship (S-WRC) with Bernardo Sousa finishing second and Frigyes Turán securing third.
The Greek edition of the WRC has lived up to its reputation as one of the fiercest rallies in the championship as only five of the original ten S-WRC competitors made it to the end of the fourth round of the S-WRC without SupeRallying.
At the eight-round championship’s half-way point, the Ford Fiesta S2000 is well-placed to fight for title contention with Martin Prokop lying 11 points behind championship leader Juho Hänninen. After landing his second podium of the year, Sousa lies third in the overall standings with 43 points.
Estonia’s Ott Tänak led the S-WRC at the end of the first day but a roll on Saturday’s opening stage saw the young driver’s challenge for his third podium vanish before his eyes. Tänak is now fifth in the overall championship standings, 21 points adrift of Hänninen.
Despite racking up 12 fastest stage times over the weekend, a series of problems on Friday and Saturday morning hindered Nasser Al-Attiyah from chasing his first S-WRC victory of the season.
After an unlucky start to his first S-WRC season, Hungary’s Frigyes Turán had a near-perfect run in his Ford Fiesta S2000 to consolidate his first podium finish.
S-WRC position: 2
Final position: 11
Reigning Portuguese Rally Champion Bernardo Sousa got off to a strong start at the fourth round of the S-WRC when he had a clear run through Friday’s stages situated next to Mount Kallidromo. He was lying third in S-WRC (11th overall) at the end of the first day.
Saturday’s notoriously rocky roads proved troublesome for Sousa as his Ford Fiesta S2000 suffered a puncture 12 km before the end of Stage 7. This was followed by a small off after a bumpy section on Stage 12. During the day’s closing night stage, Sousa had a small problem with the differential and the gearbox which meant he could only drive in front-wheel-drive. The incident knocked the young driver back into tenth overall but moved Sousa up into second in S-WRC, with a lead of one minute over Turán in third place.
Sousa had a clear run through Sunday’s stages in order to consolidate his second podium in the S-WRC this year. The Madeira-born driver’s strong performance this weekend has promoted Sousa into third of the overall standings and he remains in a good position to fight for title contention.
Bernardo Sousa said:
“We’ve made it to the end of a difficult rally and I’m delighted with my position. The stages have been very rough this weekend – I’d say Saturday’s stages were the worst as they were just so rough and there were rocks everywhere. We have all been going very fast and when I feel confident with the car handling it's possible to set good times. We’ve just tried to find a good rhythm and to avoid any problems. The priority was to get to the end of the rally but to finish with a podium is a bonus. We’re now half way through the year and if the second half of the season goes as well as the first then I will be very happy with how the year has gone.”
S-WRC position: 3
Final position: 13
Despite making his debut at Acropolis Rally of Greece this weekend, Frigyes Turán had a successful start after encountering no problems on Friday to hold fifth in S-WRC (14th overall) at the end of day halt.
A trouble-free day followed on Saturday and the Hungarian driver adopted a mature driving approach to tackle the notoriously rocky and twisty roads in the Peloponnese peninsula. By the end of the day, Turán had moved up to third in S-WRC and remained 14th overall.
Turán’s aim for the final day of action was to have a clear run and to consolidate his third place position which the Hungarian successfully managed. A delighted Turán pulled into the final service delighted with his performance and leaves his first ever Greek event with a well-deserved 15 championship points.
Frigyes Turán said:
“This is a dream come true for me – it’s been a great rally and we’ve had very few problems. We did exactly what we had planned to do - to have a clear run and to finish with some championship points. I never expected to finish on the podium so this a bonus, I’m really very happy. In every stage I felt I was getting more confident that we were getting closer to the other guys. Now I’m got a good feeling for the remaining S-WRC rounds, I hope to challenge for more points and to achieve another podium would be an excellent result for us.”
S-WRC position: 5
Final position: 15
Martin Prokop’s fight to lead the championship got off to a shaky start when his Ford Fiesta S2000 developed problems with the rear differential on the rally’s opening stage. With no opportunity to make repairs at the remote service in Kamena Vourla, Prokop was forced to drive for the remainder of the day in rear-wheel drive only, experiencing significant time loss in the process. The Czech finished the day seventh in S-WRC (18th overall).
On Stage 8 Prokop was caught in the dust of fellow S-WRC competitor Eyvind Brynildsen incurring a small time loss. However, the remainder of the day was trouble-free and Prokop moved up to fifth by the end of Stage 13, one minute and 34 seconds ahead of fellow Fiesta S2000 driver Nasser Al-Attiyah.
The final day of action saw Prokop consolidate his fifth place in S-WRC and the former J-WRC champion sealed 10 well-earned championship points. The Czech driver is now placed second in the overall championship standings.
Martin Prokop said:
“It’s been such a difficult weekend but I’m really happy to have made it to the end and to have scored some points from this rally. Friday was so difficult having to drive on such rough roads with rear-wheel drive only as there was just no traction at all. We were sliding and spinning a lot bur Saturday and Sunday went much better. It is not all bad, we have got to the end of the rally and we finished fifth so have some points for the championship. We must try to push on the next couple of events and hope that I can get back to the top of the standings.”
S-WRC position: 6
Final position: 16
Reigning Dakar Rally Champion Nasser Al-Attiyah got off to a perfect start as he was fastest through the rally opening’s stage but his challenge for his first S-WRC victory was ended when his power steering failed. As a result, Al-Attiyah lost more than two minutes on Stage 2 but repairs resulted in his second fastest time of the morning on Stage 4. Stage 5, however, saw more problems for the Qatari driver as he was forced to retire due to a broken wheel and brake problems.
Al-Attiyah returned for Saturday but overshot a junction on Stage 7 and then had problems on Stage 8 when a suspension arm bolt worked loose on his Ford Fiesta S2000. This was then followed by a 40 second penalty as Al-Attiyah was four minutes late into Stage 9. After an eventful morning, a trouble-free afternoon followed for the Qatari driver and at the end of Day 2, Al-Attiyah was sixth in S-WRC.
A clear run on the final day saw Al-Attiyah finish sixth in S-WRC and 16th overall. He racked up an impressive 12 fastest stage times but due to the significant time loss incurred on Friday he was unable to battle for a podium finish.
Nasser Al-Attiyah said:
“I feel I have no luck in this championship, it’s been one problem after another this year which is so frustrating. When everything is going OK we can get good times and I am confident that I can challenge for a win but unfortunately it doesn’t work out like this as things can go wrong. We’re half way through the championship now and although the title is looking out of my reach, I would still like to take some wins in the second half of the season. I just hope for some better luck and then I hope championship points will follow.”
S-WRC position: Retired
Final position: N/A
Markko Märtin’s protégé Ott Tänak took the S-WRC championship lead when early leader Nasser Al-Attiyah hit trouble on Stage 2. Three fastest stage times saw Tänak gradually extend his advantage over the other S-WRC competitors and the 20-year-old led the championship by 29.2 seconds by the end of the first day.
Saturday, however, did not fare well for Tänak as the young driver rolled 500 m into the day’s opening stage causing extensive damage to the front and right of his Ford Fiesta S2000. Tänak nursed his damaged car to the end of the stage but lost 15 minutes as a result of the incident. The Estonian driver then stopped before Stage 9 as the damaged incurred was too much for the car to be able to continue.
When the car was returned to service, the damage sustained on Tänak’s Fiesta S2000 was declared too bad for the Estonian to return under SupeRally for Sunday’s action. Tänak’s retirement now means that he drops down the overall S-WRC championship standings and now lies fifth overall.
Ott Tänak said:
“On Friday evening I thought that a victory could be possible but now I am very disappointed. We were told that we could not restart on Sunday as the damage from the impact on Stage 7 was too much for the car. This is not a very long championship and we only have four events remaining so it is a big blow for this to happen. Now I just hope that the remaining rallies will go OK and that I can secure more points in order to remain in the fight for the championship title.”