Rally de Portugal
WRC Points For Dennis And Frederic!
The Rally de Port ugal again proved gruelling. The event saw a multitude of punctures and bent suspensions. The FE RM Power Tools World Rally Team displayed considerable character and turned in a strong result by finishing tenth, gathering world championship points.
The event in the Algarve was like a renewed meeting with an old acquaintance for Dennis Kuipers and Frederic Miclotte. The duo competed in last year’s rally and were determined to benefit from that knowledge.
In the run-up to the event, the FERM team studied the on-board videos from last year. Dennis was also present at the test of the the official Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team to obtain extra knowledge.
These meticulous preparations amply paid dividends in the 385 gruelling kilometres of the rally. The FERM World Rally Team came through one of the most arduous editions of the Rally de Portugal without a single problem.
This first-rate performance brought the FERM Power Tools World Rally Team its first top 10 finish of the season. The 10th place also delivered the first world championship point for both driver Dennis Kuipers and navigator Frederic Miclotte. FERM WRT also scooped two points for the manufacturers’ championship.
‘It’s fantastic for Fred and myself to pick up points so early in the season in such a tough rally,’ said a delighted Dennis Kuipers at the finish of the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship. ‘We really had to work hard for it. It was the toughest rally in my life’.
Navigator Frederic Miclotte was similarly overjoyed with the world championship points. ‘I’m particularly pleased with the way we were able to recompose ourselves after Mexico. You know you’ve delivered a terrific result if you get into the points in this tough event without even a scratch on the Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car.
The duel for first place was between Sebastien Ogier and Sebastien Loeb (both driving for Citroen). Just like last year Ogier beat the seven-times world champion. The manufacturers’ drivers of Ford finished third and fourth after various technical holdups. Despite a lot of technical gremlins fellow Dutchman Peter van Merksteijn (Citroen) made it to the finish in his WRC comeback in 22nd place.
Pure Class Required
Portugal has hosted the WRC circus since 1973. Initially the drivers did battle on a mixture of asphalt and gravel, but now the event takes place purely and solely on unsurfaced roads.
The list of winners over the past 30 years speaks volumes: to excel in this classic you need to be blessed with extraordinary car control skills, a lot of courage and be able to operate as a team.
Top-class drivers like Walter Röhrl, Michele Mouton, Miki Biasion, Juha Kankkunen, Ari Vatanen, Tommi Makinen, Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz built up their reputations in this event. The king of Portugal is Markku Alen. The flying Finn won the Rally five times, in 1975, 1977, 1978, 1981 and 1987.
An exceptional performance was that of double world champion Walter Röhrl in the 1980 event. In dense fog the German got an incredible lead of four minutes on his closest rival in one special stage.
This years edition of the rally still poses extreme challenges. This year Dennis Kuipers and his WRC colleagues faced a difficult mix of highspeed sections and courses full of bends and hills, with trees and stones presenting an extra hazard.
‘It’s undoubtedly the most difficult gravel rally of the season,’ say most WRC drivers. Not surprisingly the event saw countless punctures and broken suspensions. This year the Rally de Portugal again lived up to its reputation as an classic.
Ten Golden Hands
During a rally there are four mechanics and one engineer who work like concerned fathers under the Ford Fiesta RS WRC of the FERM World Rally Team. In tight servicing stops of 10, 30 or 45 minutes, they perform miracles to keep the rally car in shape. Every important nut and bolt is checked. Suspension, brakes and wheels receive extra attention. What’s more, the engineer uses a laptop to monitor the heart of the vehicle, the 1600 cc turbo-engine. In serious emergencies a welloiled servicing team is able to swap a gearbox in 25 minutes or to fit a new front wheel suspension in ten minutes. These ten golden hands make the difference between dropping out and finishing.
-source: ferm wrt