Mentos Ascania Racing Mentos Ascania Racing - exciting Saturday
On Saturday Rally Sweden turned in lottery named "snowdrift"- a lot of crews reached the finish with mistakes and time wasting. Mentos Ascania Racing drivers had exiting day: Valeriy Gorban started the race on the 3rd place in P-WRC and kept it till the end of the day, Oleksandr Saliuk became a strong competitor, and Aleksey Kikireshko reached finish successfully without pit-stops on the roadside of the race.
From the beginning Patrik Flodin made a loud sensation - he was retired because of breaking technical rules: wheels of his Subaru were not in accordance with this year FIA regulations. Flodin was 3rd yesterday, thereby Saturday's intrigue of the race concentrated at other drivers. Ukrainian Mentos Ascania Racing became an important participant of the Swedish battle: at SS8 there was only 2 sec between Saliuk and Protasov.
Yesterday Saliuk complained about slippery road - there is no winter rally in Ukraine, so he did not have enough snow-driving skills. Russian driver Dmitriy Tagirov made the battle tough - he made a mistake at SS8 and lost the time in a snowdrift. Snow became a real evil for Russian crew: on the road section after SS12 Tagirov had an accident with a local private car.
The spectator was not careful and didn't give an attention to the road situation - thereby Tagirov had to avoid the crush and direct his car out of the road. He couldn't release the car from the snow in time and was late at time control. Thereby Dmitry will start tomorrow - by the SupeRally system.
The battle at the first section of Rally Sweden was similar to the one at the last year Rally Yalta: Valeriy Gorban drove before Yuri Protasov, who was faster at the stages but Gorban kept his position in total ranking. From the beginning the distance between them was 55 sec, than it reduced till half of the minute: That was the distance of the one mistake and the delicate balance could be broken anytime. And the Rally Sweden situation changed for Gorban exactly unluckily as Yalta Rally did: just before the 1st section's finish Valeriy made a visit to a snowdrift and Protasov came forward.
Spectators could see remarkable battle between Ukrainian drivers - it continued after the service brake. On SS12 Valery Gorban was faster than Protasov for about 4 sec but Protasov took his priority back - win SS13.
This "unlucky" stage become quite lucky for Saliuk - he was third there. But the total results after fourteen stages were the same: Valery Gorban became third, Protasov - second, and Saliuk could take only the eighth position.
The last part of the race made certain changes in the results: Valery Gorban lost his third position in the duel with Nicolas Fusch. After the service brake Fusch got faster and faster and after SS15 Nikolas became 3rd. But at the last SSS of this day Gorban finally took his priority back.
So Saturday's part of Rally Sweden finished - only 8 cars reached finish, and Martin Semerad became the leader of the PWRC ranking. All three cars of the Mentos Ascania Racing team came to the end of the day - Gorban was third, Saliuk become 8th and Kikireshko took the 9th place.
Valery Gorban: "Now Martin Semerad is the leader of our production category. Today it was a very difficult and interesting race in which we were doing our best. But tomorrow it will be a crucial day for all the participants in general and for our team in particular. We need all the encouragement of our fans to finish the last kilometers of the rally tomorrow. As to me - I drove with great pleasure today. I used to like wide roads but here in Sweden I like narrow ones. It's a surprise for myself!"
Oleksandr Saliuk: "I can say only one thing - the winter race is not habitual for me! So today's race was quite difficult for me, I'm always driving as fast as I can, but here, I think, I can't understand the local road yet"
-source: ascania racing