|2005 FIA Junior World Rally Championship
Round 3 - Rally d'Italy-Sardinia (28 April - 1 May)
Sunday 1 May 2005 - Final
SUZUKI SECOND IN SARDINIA
Suzuki driver Urmo Aava has finished the Rally d'Italia-Sardinia,
round three of the Junior World Rally Championship, in second place.
Despite hitting problems, the Suzukis of P-G Andersson and Guy Wilks
have finished fifth and sixth, while the Jipocar Ignis of Martin Prokop
is seventh. This means that four Suzukis have finished in the top eight
Excellent performance of Umo Aava with the Suzuki Ignis
The unusually hot and rough conditions over all three days of the
rally decimated the field, with several high-profile retirements due
to the rocky and abrasive gravel roads. Temperatures were much hotter
than predicted, exceeding 30 degrees centigrade, while the sharp stones
caused several punctures.
The action was fast and furious, with the newly developed Citroen
C2 providing the toughest challenge for Suzuki. The winner was in doubt
up until the final stage, due to the unpredictable conditions which
rewarded speed but also consistency.
out of trouble was the key to success, and Urmo Aava drove sensibly
yet rapidly on his return to competition after a six-month break. It
was the first time that the Estonian had driven the five-door Ignis,
yet he quickly got to grips with his new machine to set an impressive
series of stage times and match his best-ever result.
Urmo said: "This rally has been a big adventure for me as I had
to drive sensibly in order to learn the car. Because of that I was
just trying to avoid problems from the start so maybe that was why
I was able to get such a good result. The car feels very good and
it's certainly very strong: there were some unbelievably big rocks
on the road. This was close to a perfect rally for me: we had no real
problems and we could just keep going until the finish. I'm very happy."
Junior World Champion P-G Andersson hit problems on SS8 of day two,
when he stopped with a broken gearbox casing that deprived his Ignis
of drive and fourth place. Before then, he had lost time with a puncture
on the opening stage. Nonetheless, he was able to re-join the rally
on the final day under the new re-start rules and ended up with a strong
P-G said: "I won this rally last year, but I don't remember
it being so rough! This has been a struggle from start to finish.
On the opening stage we had a puncture, then on the second day the
gearbox casing broke which meant that we were not going anywhere!
Luckily our mechanics were able to fix the car and get me out for
the final day, where I was able to score some points. It's a real
pity though, as we should have scored more."
team mate Guy Wilks stopped on the same SS8, after breaking a lower
track control arm because of the constant battering from the many sharp
rocks. But he too was able to re-join the rally for the final day and
ended up scoring a hard-earned three championship points.
The Englishman commented: "This rally started off badly
and got worse! I had to stop and change a puncture on the very first
stage, which meant that I had to push hard in order to get back up
to sixth place. I was confident that we could improve further, but
then the suspension broke and we had to stop. It was lucky that we
were able to complete the final leg and score points, but I won't
be taking any fond memories away from this rally! Still, rallying
is all about taking the rough with the smooth: quite literally in
the case of Sardinia!"
manager Risto Laine reported: "We came to this rally expecting
a big fight with Citroen, and to some extent we were right, but in
the end it became more a question of survival! I think it's a real
pity that the route has been so rough: there have been a lot of damaged
cars. But we have come away from this event with more points than we
imagined were possible yesterday, so we have to be pleased about that.
The pace of the Citroen was no surprise to us: this is absolutely what
we thought they were capable of. Now we're looking forward to the next
rally and the same challenge all over again!"
driver Kosti Katajamaki was leading until the second day, when he lost
three and a half minutes after sliding off the road and watching spectators
steal the front wings off his car! He recovered to fourth place, but
the constant impacts with several big rocks meant that that he broke
a chassis leg and holed the sump at the end of the second day. The
mechanics tried to fix the problem, but Kosti was eventually forced
to retire on the final day.
The Finn, backed by two-time World Champion Marcus Gronholm, said: "Sometimes
you win and sometimes you lose in rallying, and unfortunately on this
event I lost. I'm very happy with our speed on this event, but of
course you have to get to the finish as well. We tried our best, but
the route was just so rough."
Czech Martin Prokop, driving an Ignis run by Jipocar, scored his first
points of the year with seventh place. "I'm very happy," he
said. "My aim on this event was to learn as much as possible,
because I don't have much experience. To score some points as well
The next round of the Junior World Rally Championship is June's Acropolis
Rally but P-G Andersson and Guy Wilks will be back in action competing
in class A6 on the Cyprus Rally from May 13-15. This round of the World
Championship is notoriously rough and rocky - meaning that Sardinia
will have been a good learning experience!
The championship situation is now incredibly close, with the top
four drivers from Citroen and Suzuki covered by just two points!
Junior World Rally Championship classification at end of leg three,
1 Daniel Sordo (Citroen C2) 4h35m13.4s
Junior World Rally Championship Classification after Round 3
2 Urmo Aava (Suzuki Ignis) +3m33.9s
3 Kris Meeke (Citroen C2) +4m39.4s
4 Luca Betti (Renault Clio) +8m44.5s
5 P-G Andersson (Suzuki Ignis) +19m20.0s
6 Guy Wilks (Suzuki Ignis) +22m10.1s
7 Martin Prokop (Suzuki Ignis) +24m51.9s
8 Conrad Rautenbach (Citroen C2) +29m03.4s
9 Pavel Valousek (Suzuki Ignis) +29m12.9s
1 Kris Meeke (Citroen C2) 16p
2 P-G Andersson (Suzuki Ignis) 15p
= Guy Wilks (Suzuki Ignis) 15p
= Daniel Sordo (Citroen C2) 15p
5 Luca Betti (Renault Clio) 9p
6 Kosti Katajamaki (Suzuki Ignis) 8p
= 2 Urmo Aava (Suzuki Ignis) 8p
8 Alan Scorcioni (Suzuki Ignis) 6p
= 9 Pavel Valousek (Suzuki Ignis) 6p
11 Martin Prokop (Suzuki Ignis) 2p