Ekaterina Stratieva says her late exit from the lead of the FIA ERC Ladies’ Trophy on SATA Rallye Açores on Saturday wasn’t all bad.
The rapid Bulgarian was challenging for the final podium place in the ERC 2WD Championship when she went off the road and rolled two stages from the finish.
Despite failing to complete the demanding gravel event, which enjoyed extensive live coverage on Eurosport, Stratieva said her trip to the mid-Atlantic archipelago hadn’t been an entirely wasted trip, particularly after her ERC Ladies’ Trophy rival Molly Taylor retired on day two.
“Of course I didn’t want this to happen but I’m happy because I didn’t want to go slow just because Molly was out and a lot of other cars had stopped,” said the 30-year-old Citroën C2 R2 driver. “I wanted to improve step by step to go better and better. We did many stages and I go more than 20s quicker on each stage than on my first time through and I start to feel well the car on gravel. I didn’t want to crash but I did want to be fast.”
Stratieva, a rookie on gravel, explained the damage to her Napoca Rally Academy-run car wasn’t too severe and is already working on plans to contest round five of the ERC, Giru di Corsica-Tour de Corse from 16-18 May. “For sure they can fix the car but I don’t know if I will find the money to do the rally,” said Stratieva, who continues to top the ERC Ladies’ Trophy standings following her victory in Gran Canaria last month.