Rally de Portugal
Kaur makes History as First Ever FIA WRC Academy Cup Winner
Estonian pairing Egon Kaur and his co-driver Mait Laidvee made history today in their Ford Fiesta R2 when they won the inaugural round of the FIA WRC Academy Cup at Vodafone Rally de Portugal. Kaur topped a field of 18 identical R2 cars all with Pirelli tyres, to claim 25 WRC Academy Cup points for the victory. The WRC Academy rule which grants one point for each stage win, earned Kaur an extra three Cup points for victories on SS7, SS11 and SS12, putting him top of the event standings with 28 points.
Kaur proved both his talent and his relentless determination on the tricky gravel stages. After a series of setbacks, he took the lead on SS12, the penultimate stage of the WRC Academy rally, to become the last of four different leaders over the course of the event. Yeray Lemes (ESP) tore through the Thursday afternoon Lisbon Super Special to be awarded the first ever WRC Academy Cup point, but lost the lead on SS2 to Pirelli Star Driver Craig Breen (IRE). The young Canary Islander’s times remained strong however until his retirement on SS6. Lemes restarted on Day Two, but went off once again on SS10, marking the premature end of his rally in Portugal for the second year in a row.
Meanwhile Breen whipped through the opening stages of Day Two to claim four consecutive stage wins (SS2-5) and had pulled out an impressive lead of 48 seconds by the end of Day One. After Lemes’ first day retirement, Kaur and Alastair Fisher (GBR) jockeyed for position behind Breen. Fisher won stage SS6, but a rip-roaring time from Kaur on SS7, meant the Estonian pipped his Northern Irish rival to second by 0.8 seconds at the end of Day One.
However, Kaur was plagued by problems on the first loop of Day Two and Fisher snatched second and then the lead when Breen misheard a pace note on SS10 following his fifth stage win (SS9), left the road and was unable to get going again. With Breen’s retirement, Kaur found himself once again battling for second, this time with Victor Henriksson (SWE). After a troubled Day One due to driveshaft and shock absorber difficulties, Henriksson used his experience in the R2 and on the Portuguese stages to bring his Fiesta home safely. However, with Kaur’s SS10 problems resolved at midday service on Day Two, he was back on form in the afternoon and stormed through SS11 to win the stage and secure second place. In typical rally style, Fisher unexpectedly rolled on SS12 losing over six minutes and promoting Kaur into the lead. The 2010 Estonian Champion then sealed his position with a further stage win on SS12, before easing off slightly through the final WRC Academy stage to a claim a well-deserved win by a slim 16.4 seconds.
Henriksson followed him home to finish second, with Christian Riedemann (DEU) proving consistency pays and claiming the final spot on the WRC Academy podium, ahead of Pirelli Star Driver Brendan Reeves (AUS) in fourth and Fisher who nursed his Fiesta back to fifth.
1st – EGON KAUR (EST) – “I haven’t yet completely realised what I’ve done or the result. It’ll come to me soon I think. It’s unbelievable. What a second day – a really tight competition and really tough on the gravel, but great.”
2nd – VICTOR HENRIKSSON (SWE) – “I’m very happy. The bolt that holds the TCU came off on the first stage this afternoon about 200km from the start. I had to drive all three stages of the second loop with it loose, so I’m pleased to be here. I thought I would be somewhere in the forest! The car survived for me. It’s like a victory to me. Incredible.”
3rd – CHRISTIAN RIEDEMANN (DEU) – “It was a good day. We hoped in the morning that if we drove carefully then other drivers would make mistakes and we would climb up the rankings. It was a good tactic in the end. I’m very happy especially because it was my first gravel event in the WRC.”
-source: wrc academy