BP-Ford World Rally team driver Roman Kresta matched his career best result when he and co-driver Jan Tomanek finished sixth on Germany's OMV ADAC Rallye today. The Czech duo enjoyed a thrilling final day battle with Gigi Galli on this 11th round...
BP-Ford World Rally team driver Roman Kresta matched his career best result when he and co-driver Jan Tomanek finished sixth on Germany's OMV ADAC Rallye today. The Czech duo enjoyed a thrilling final day battle with Gigi Galli on this 11th round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The result was in doubt until the final few kilometres of the 355.40km event when Kresta's Ford Focus RS World Rally Car was edged out of fifth by his Italian rival.
Dani Solà and Xavier Amigo finished 12th in a privately-entered Focus RS after losing more than eight minutes when they went off the road this morning. Toni Gardemeister and Jakke Honkanen, driving another BP-Ford Focus RS, climbed to 17th after yesterday's time loss.
The three-day all-asphalt rally was based near Trier, Germany's oldest city, in the south-west of the country. The opening two days' action covered narrow but fast speed tests in the Mosel vineyards and the constantly changing surfaces of the Baumholder military land, more commonly used by US soldiers for tank training. Today's competition was based on more traditional asphalt roads in the Saarland region.
Despite losing 50 seconds when spinning off the road yesterday, Kresta began the morning 2.4sec ahead of Galli. The duo fought for every tenth of a second on the opening loop of three special stages, after which Kresta returned to service just 0.6sec ahead of Galli. The battle continued on the final three stages but Galli edged ahead to finish 8.7sec clear.
"I could have driven faster but that would have meant taking risks, and I didn't want to do that," said Kresta. "It's better to finish sixth than not at all. I really wanted the points and this is a good result for me and the BP-Ford team. The battle with Gigi was good for the spectators to watch but not so easy for me!
"I held fourth on the first day and I think that if I had not made any mistakes I could have finished there. The Focus has been perfect for all three days and the only things that have gone wrong were my fault. I had a good test before the rally and that helped me a lot," added Kresta, who moved up to eighth in the drivers' standings. The result matched his sixth place finishes in Cyprus and Sardinia earlier in the season.
Spaniards Solà and Amigo were eighth overnight in a privately-entered Focus RS, having been as high as fifth yesterday afternoon. However, they dropped to 13th after going off the road on the second stage this morning and losing more than eight minutes. "Going into a left corner, I went slightly off the road," said Solà. "I tried to correct it but ended up in a field. I couldn't see where to go because the grass was long and in trying to get back onto the road I drove into a ditch. It took a long time to get out again.
"I tried a stiffer roll bar on the car but that was a mistake because I had a lot of understeer and didn't have a good feeling. It's a shame I tried that because that's why I ended up in the field. My pre-event plan was to use this rally as a test for future rounds. From that view it has been a good weekend. I've improved my speed and learned a lot about the car on asphalt, but it hasn't been easy. The team has worked well with me to set up the car in the way I want," he added.>
Gardemeister climbed from 23rd to 17th today, the Finn using the final leg as a test session after losing more than 20 minutes yesterday with an electrical problem. "It was a disappointing weekend for me," said the 30-year-old Finn. "It was difficult to fight for good times and then the problem cost me a lot more time. I have tested tyre and suspension set-up today so the data we have gathered from that has been useful. I'm pleased I made it to the finish, but I wanted a good result here and that didn't happen."
News from our Rivals
Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) scored his eighth victory of the season and his fourth consecutive German success, cruising through the final day to beat team-mate Francois Duval by 37.4sec. The Frenchman extended his championship lead to 32 points and the 1-2 result lifted the French team back into the lead of the manufacturers' series. Team-mates Marcus Gronholm and Markko Martin (both Peugeot) were similarly untroubled en route to third and fourth. Behind the Galli and Kresta battle, Petter Solberg (Subaru) climbed back into the points following yesterday's gear selection troubles by finishing seventh. His cause was helped when team-mate Stephane Sarrazin drove the final three stages with a broken front right driveshaft. However, the Frenchman claimed the final drivers' and manufacturers' point in eighth. Jan Kopecky (Skoda) was the only major retirement today when he crashed out of ninth and ripped the rear left wheel from his car on the third stage this morning.