Localidade (Portugal), September 28, 2002 - The Rota do Vidro Rally, 7th run of the Portuguese rally season, is not running quite as team Ford Galp Energia Racing was expecting it would. In fact, throughout the 11 stages effectively run during...
Localidade (Portugal), September 28, 2002 - The Rota do Vidro Rally, 7th run of the Portuguese rally season, is not running quite as team Ford Galp Energia Racing was expecting it would.
In fact, throughout the 11 stages effectively run during Leg 1 (the last - Campelo 2 - was cancelled), Rui Madeira and Fernando Prata were not able to confirm the excellent results gathered during the event previous test sessions and also during the shakedown, as the Ford Focus WRC handling wasn't the ideal one, with a very loose rear, to face the 132 km of stages run during the day.
After a troubled start on yesterday's Super Special Stage, draw within Marinha Grande city streets - where after a half-spin, the drivers weren't able to engage reverse gear on their Focus WRC, and then saw the engine stop, loosing over a minute with it - the Ford Dealer Network and Galp Energia sponsored team faced the morning first five stages aiming to recover some of the lost ground, but soon saw their goal dismantled. Not even the renewed suspension and differential set-up that they would choose on the different visits to the Service Areas had the desired effects. Things would even get worse with an annoying electrical problem on the day's penultimate stage. All in all, the team would get back to Marinha Grande with a 2m48.8 secs difference towards their main competitors on the championship rally title.
"We have to accept the situation as it is, although we won't easy things up tomorrow, as we didn't today", said the driver. "Miguel Campos has the title doors wide open, as if he wins here the title becomes his, but we won't make it easy for him, putting whatever pressure we possibly can".
So, Leg 2 will present six special stages, with a double run through Pedrogão Grande, Sertã and Cernache stages, 60 km where "maximum attack is needed, as we have nothing to loose now", he added
The rally will restart at 7 am, with cars and drivers leaving the Marinha Grande Expo Park, a place that will see their return for the last time around 3:50 pm for the podium official ceremony and prize giving.
Overall Classification: 1st Leg (provisional): 1st M. Campos/C. Magalhães (Peugeot), 1h12m21.7s; 2nd Ford Galp Energia Racing - Rui Madeira/Fernando Prata (Ford Focus WRC), at 2m48.8s; 3rd V. Lopes/J. Janela (Fiat), at 5m17.0s; 4th J. P. Fontes/N. R. Silva (Fiat), at 5m22.4s; 5th P. D. Silva/M. Castro (Citroën), at 10m39.0s; 6th M. Silva/L. Ramalho (Citroën), at 10m55.8s; (...)