FIA WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP NEWS Spanish driver Daniel Sola has won the latest round of the FIA Junior World Rally Championship, the Rallye Deutschland. After three varied days of competition on a mixture of narrow vineyard roads and concrete...
FIA WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP NEWS
Spanish driver Daniel Sola has won the latest round of the FIA Junior World Rally Championship, the Rallye Deutschland. After three varied days of competition on a mixture of narrow vineyard roads and concrete tracks normally used to train tank drivers, Sola and his navigator Alex Romani brought their Citroen Saxo to this afternoon's finish in Trier almost 40 seconds clear of the next 1600cc car and almost three minutes ahead of the next Junior WRC-registered contender, Andrea Dallavilla. Dallavilla set the initial pace on Friday's stages, which were held on narrow vineyard roads in the Mosel region. The Italian's Citroen Saxo moved into the lead during the first two stages but in the third, he hit problems. He had to stop and change a wheel, and the resulting time loss all but destroyed his chances of victory, leaving him to charge up the leaderboard in search of valuable Junior WRC points.
Dallavilla's problems handed the advantage to Ulsterman Niall McShea and the Opel Corsa driver maintained that advantage until the end of the day. He arrived back in Trier on Friday evening with a narrow 10-second lead over local Citroen Saxo driver Sven Haaf, with Ford Puma driver Francois Duval in third after he'd been slowed by a misfire. McShea's lead was short-lived, however, for he received a 20-second road penalty after he'd had to fix an alternator problem on a road section.
Saturday took crews to the daunting, bumpy and dirty concrete roads of the Baumholder military ranges and in changeable conditions, the leaderboard was turned on its head. Haaf was first to falter when the engine on his Saxo expired in the day's second stage. By then, Duval was already in front. He'd picked the right tyre choice and vaulted past both Haaf and McShea in the opening test. McShea's challenge lasted only two stages further than Haaf's, for the Briton rolled the Corsa heavily and retired in SS14.
Further fastest times from Duval on Saturday afternoon were enough for him to build a useful lead - more than 40 seconds - with just the final day's action remaining. Sola, who'd lost time with a spin and poor tyre choices, held second, while the fast-recovering Dallavilla was now in third, albeit more than three minutes adrift.
Sunday started well for Duval as he set fastest time on the day's opening stage but in the second test, he was caught out by mud on the road and slid into an earth bank, flattening his Puma's exhaust. More than five minutes were lost before he could continue, and he subsequently retired two stages from the finish with electrical problems.
Duval's retirement handed the lead to Sola and he consolidated his advantage over the closing stages to score his second Junior WRC victory of the season. "I'm very happy," he said. "My aim on all of the rounds is to finish and get some experience, but here we've had a win as well, which is like a bonus. The next round in Sanremo will be difficult because there are a lot of fast Italian drivers in the series and I'm sure they'll be quick at their home event."
Dallavilla claimed second in Germany and his now Sola's closest rival in the series standings, four points behind. Local driver Niki Schelle gave Suzuki's Ignis its first podium Junior WRC finish in third, with Mirco Baldacci, Martin Rowe and Kosti Katajamaki completing the points-scoring places.
The FIA World Junior Rally Championship moves back to more traditional asphalt terrain for its next round, the Rallye Sanremo on September 20-22.