Sat 12 Mar 2022

Rookie Palomo shocks ERC4 rivals on Saturday

FIA ERC4 debutant Óscar Palomo ended Saturday at Rally Serras de Fafe - Felgueiras - Cabreira e Boticas with a surprise lead.

The young Spaniard was fifth after Friday night’s Fafe superspecial blast, but overtook Roberto Daprà on the first gravel speed test on Saturday morning. 

Renault Clio Rally4 pilot Paulo Soria briefly snatched top spot on SS5, but he suffered a puncture and broken brake pipe on Vieira do Minho which dropped him back to second. 

Soria later slipped to third after being dealt a 30sec time penalty for a late check-in, which means Palomo holds a 1min 32.9sec advantage over Andrea Mabellini heading into Sunday’s final leg.

“Today has really worked for my co-driver and I, and I am really happy,” smiled Palomo. “Tomorrow is a long day, so we need to continue to work and go for the win. 

“The rain is very hard and the roads are difficult because the Rally2 cars pull a lot of rocks onto the stage, but I think it’s a good situation for me,” he added.

Mabellini punctured a tyre 5.5km from the end of SS8 but still ended 24.6sec clear of Soria, who maintained a comfortable 1min 41.1sec gap to Ernesto Cunha’s Peugeot. Daprà rounded off the leaderboard 2min 1.1sec behind in a Ford Fiesta. 

Anthony Fotia had an off on SS5 which damaged the front-right corner of his Toksport WRT-run Renault Clio Rally4. The tyre became detached on his return to regroup in Fafe and he was later disqualified for “driving on a public road without four freely rotating wheels and tyres”. 

Joosep Ralf Nõgene retired after crashing his Fiesta on SS3. The Estonian is expected to restart on Sunday. 

  • Full coverage from Rally Serras de Fafe - Felgueiras - Cabreira e Boticas is available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.
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