FPAK’s Pedro Antunes leads ERC3 Junior on home event
FPAK Portugal Team ERC’s exciting talent Pedro Antunes leads his home round of the FIA European Rally Championship in the Pirelli-equipped ERC3 Junior class, topping the Azores Rallye order by 3.8s.
Antunes made a great start by winning the opening Coroa da Mata test by 3.2s but is being charged down by Saintéloc Junior Team’s new ERC3 Junior recruit for 2019, Sindre Furuseth. A decision to take soft tyres benefitted Antunes on SS1 but by the end of the next stage, his front tyres were worn out.
Furuseth won SS2 to move past Rally Team Spain’s Efrén Llarena for second place, building a 2.8s advantage of his fellow Peugeot 208 R2 rival in third. Though he dropped back, Llarena is still very much in the lead battle, only 6.6s behind Antunes.
“We won the first stage, the second one we knew was a bit tricky and we could have a puncture so we take it careful,” said Antunes. “We are in the lead but it’s only 3.2s so it’s going to be a big fight.”
Yohan Rossel is fourth in ERC3 but the Peugeot Rally Academy driver is not eligible for ERC3 Junior, so the first of the two ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team drivers Elias Lundberg in fifth place is also fourth in ERC3 Junior.
It was a show of perseverance from Lundberg, who was driving through illness to finish the day only 0.7s ahead of reigning British Junior champion Steve Røkland, the latter hitting a bank and losing time on SS2.
Stengg Motorsport’s Simon Wagner is sixth in ERC3 Junior, running through SS3 with a puncture and with the bootlid of his Opel ADAM R2 wide open.
ACCR Czech Rally Team pair Erik Cais and Dominik Brož are seventh and eighth in ERC3 Junior, with Team ROMO’s Roman Schwedt and the third ACCR-backed car of Jan Talaš completing the ERC3 Junior top 10.
Grégoire Munster is P11 on his ERC3 Junior debut in the second ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team car, while Sean Johnston (Saintéloc Junior Team) and Catie Munnings (Peugeot Rally Academy) bringing up the rear in ERC3 after being hit by a clutch fault.
ERC3 newcomer Dmitriy Myachin’s debut was short-lived, rolling his TBRacing-prepared 208 on the rally-opening Coroa da Mata stage. The Russian is hoping to restart.