PWRC saturday wrap:
With a commanding lead of almost six minutes, Benito Guerra is set to secure the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship for 2012 when the season concludes on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana tomorrow.
After overnight leader Marcos Ligato dropped back with brake issues and with a transmission glitch affecting Yeray Lemes on Saturday’s second stage, Guerra was in front when team-mate and closest title rival Michal Kosciuszko crashed out from second on stage nine.
“I’m really happy, today was a great day,” said Mexican Guerra, who heads Indonesia’s Subhan Aksa by 5m56.5s. “I’m now very close to achieving my goal so we just need to keep focused and keep everything on the road. I can’t make any mistakes so tomorrow will just be about getting to the end without any problems. We are in a very comfortable position but I am sure that the six stages left will feel very long.”
Ukraine’s Valeriy Gorban had been in second for Mentos Ascania Racing when brake woes dropped his Mitsubishi Lancer behind Aksa who, like Gorban, can win the title if Guerra hits trouble on day three.
Ligato, who is fourth tonight, lost six minutes on today’s second stage due to brake problems, dropping him to fourth. “There’s not much else I can do,” said the Argentine. “It’s not over until the results are final so now we must push to try and gain some more positions.”
Spanish wildcard Josep Membrado is fifth overnight with Italian Lorenzo Bertelli overcoming a double picture to complete day two in sixth position. Kosciuszko is set to restart under Rally 2 rules in seventh place but would need several drivers to falter if he is to snatch the title from Ralliart Italia team-mate Guerra.
click: wrc.com/PWRC sat wrap
Saturday WRC Academy wrap:
Jose Suarez's co-driver Candido Carrera celebrated their maiden victory in the FIA WRC Academy by paying tribute to Gareth Roberts, last year's champion navigator who lost his life in a crash competing on a rally in Sicily back in June.
Roberts partnered Craig Breen to the inaugural WRC Academy crown in 2011 and was a popular competitor. Carrera’s success on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana today means he finishes on top of the final co-drivers’ standings this season with Suarez securing the runner-up spot to Elfyn Evans in the drivers’ table.
“I am very happy,” said Carrera. “My driver was fantastic and this [result] is very important for me because it’s in memory of my friend Gareth Roberts.”
Suarez moved in front on Friday’s fifth stage when a puncture slowed Pontus Tidemand. Starting day two with an advantage of 1m09.6s, Suarez drove without error to maintain his overnight lead of 1m09.6s, which he extended by almost 10s over Tidemand at the finish in Salou this evening.
Evans completed his title-winning season with his fifth podium finish in third alongside new co-driver Seb Marshall. John MacCrone returned under Rally 2 rules on day two and claimed a brace of stage wins on his way to fourth overall. Timo van der Marel finished fifth with Brendan Reeves sixth and newcomer Aron Domzala seventh. Fredrik Ahlin was in fourth when he crashed heavily on stage 10.
click: wrc.com/ WRC Academy sat wrap