Gearbox problems affect rally final. Macedo de Cavaleiros (Portugal), June 8, 2002 - Rui Madeira and Fernando Prata have reached 4th overall on the TMN Rally of Portugal, a result that happened, in part, due to the gearbox problems that affected...
Gearbox problems affect rally final.
Macedo de Cavaleiros (Portugal), June 8, 2002 - Rui Madeira and Fernando Prata have reached 4th overall on the TMN Rally of Portugal, a result that happened, in part, due to the gearbox problems that affected the car's performance on the final stages of the rally. In terms of national championship, this result is like a 3rd place, due to the fact that Didier Auriol, the rally winner, is a FIA A seeded driver and, as such, he doesn't take points from the national contenders.
Inspired by the performance at the initial 'Corujas' SS, the only stage run on the rally's Leg 1 - the SS2 'Cabanas' was cancelled due to track conditions - where they were 2nd, just after Auriol, the Ford Galp Energia Racing drivers wanted to go even further, by finishing 1st overall or, if that was not possible, to do it right behind that more experienced driver.
But on Saturday's morning stages - 'Morais', 'Malta' and 'Bornes' - they immediately saw that the previous day set-up on the Ford Focus WRC was not the ideal to the stages' features. "I felt some lack of traction, namely while climbing and on some more tight corners, a situation that conditioned my progression on the stages, very wet, muddy and with some loose stones", explained the driver half day through the rally. "Probably the tyres that we choose were not the ideal, seeming to be too soft and not getting rid of the mud and stones. Besides that, on 'Bornes' SS the engine went silent and it took me a lot of time to getting it started, loosing with all that several important seconds". When entering the Park Fermé at Macedo de Cavaleiros, the team was 4th overall.
In order to go around those same special stages on the afternoon section, the M-Sport staff made some important set-up changes on the Focus WRC, changing the springs and suspensions settings, plus choosing harder tyres. "Due to that, we were 3rd fastest on 'Morais 2', improving our morning time by 14 seconds. Unfortunately, right after that, while starting the penultimate stage, we experienced several gearbox problems that conditioned the whole rest of the rally. We even had to run the last stage very slowly, so we were able to reach the final podium", said the driver.
Due to this result, Rui Madeira and Fernando Prata have now reached 3rd position on their own championships. Now is time to face the SATA Rally Azores, the 5th round of the Portuguese series and also to the FIA European Rally Championship, to try another assault towards victory. To be held early July.
Final Classification (provisional): 1st D. Auriol/T. Barjou (Toyota), on 1h41m25,5s; 2nd A. Aghini/L. Roggia (Subaru), at 2m34,4s; 3rd M. Campos/C. Magalhães (Peugeot), at 3m10,4s; 4th Ford Galp Energia Racing - Rui Madeira/Fernando Prata (Ford Focus WRC), at 10m16,4s; 5th A. Araújo/M. Ramalho (Citroën), at 10m50,3s; 6th H. Franco/L.Ramalho (Mitsubishi), at 11m13,1s (...); 2002 Portuguese Rally Championship (after 4 of 10) - Drivers: 1st M. Campos, 36 pts; 2nd A. Araújo, 11 pts; 3rd A. Aghini and Rui Madeira, 10 pts; 5th B. Magalhães, 9 pts; 6th J. P. Fontes and H. Franco, 7 pts; (...) Co-Drivers: 1st C. Magalhães, 36 pts; 2nd M. Ramalho, 11 pts; 3rd L. Roggia and Fernando Prata, 10 pts; 5th P. Grave, 9 pts; 6th N. R. Silva and T. Azevedo, 7 pts; (...) Makes: 1st Peugeot, 34 pts; 2nd Mitsubishi, 20 pts; 3rd Fiat, 12 pts; 4th Toyota, Ford and Citroën, 10 pts; 7th Subaru, 6.