Antony Warmbold shines, clocking good times in Rally Japan Satisfied with their performance, the German Antony Warmbold and his British co-driver Michael Orr reached the finish of the Rally Japan (13th round of the World Rally Championship) in...
Antony Warmbold shines, clocking good times in Rally Japan
Satisfied with their performance, the German Antony Warmbold and his British co-driver Michael Orr reached the finish of the Rally Japan (13th round of the World Rally Championship) in Obihiro. In his second competition on the gravel stages of the Northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, Antony Warmbold in the privately entered Ford Focus RS WRC shone with strong special stage times. "We clocked a third- and a fifth-best time, a few times we were quicker than Ford factory driver Toni Gardemeister, and we frequently managed to beat the second works driver, Roman Kresta," says Warmbold, obviously pleased.
"I had a very good set-up and this gave me a perfect driving feel," explains Antony Warmbold. "Only this enabled us to drive so fast. What's more, we made some very good tyre choices for the changing weather conditions and slippery gravel roads."
After 26 demanding special stages, Warmbold finished ninth overall, barely missing a Championship point. "Unfortunately, we lost time on the opening leg," he explains. "On the seventh special stage, the handling of the car suddenly became very difficult, and then there was a noise at the right front. We suspected a tyre puncture and - because there is an important oil line to the engine running along the front right-hand side - we immediately stopped. But the tyre was intact. We continued driving but then had to let Chris Atkinson pass, who was coming up behind us." Warmbold lost two minutes on the seventh, and another 30 seconds on the following stage. This caused the German to drop back from eighth to twelfth place.
"In this case, when he heard the noises, we had to take a very quick decision. And we decided to play it safe and opted for a tyre change, which later proved to be the wrong choice. What caused the car's handling problem, we won't know until Team M-Sport has had the chance to carefully inspect the car."
Through to the finish, the 27-year-old professional rally driver pushed forwards again to ninth place. "We drove very consistently on the last two days of the rally. Merely on two of the special stages I wasn't completely satisfied because my notes were too slow there."
Overall, Antony Warmbold leaves Japan with a very positive assessment: "Here, I clocked truly top times for the first time, and that makes me happy."
Coming up next for Antony Warmbold and Michael Orr are the two asphalt rallies in Corsica (21-23 October) and Spain (28-30 October). Afterwards, the World Rally Championship season's finale on gravel roads in Australia (11-13 November) will be on the agenda.