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Sun 13 Mar 2022

Palomo overcomes gearbox issues to win ERC4

Óscar Palomo battled gearbox issues on Sunday to win the ERC4 category on his debut at Rally Serras de Fafe - Felgueiras - Cabreira e Boticas.

The Spaniard, starting his first ever FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) rally, moved into the lead on Saturday morning and set a storming pace in his Peugeot 208 Rally4. 

He was demoted by Paulo Soria on SS5, but jumped back ahead two stages later when Soria suffered a puncture and a broken brake pipe on the final stage of the day.

Palomo started the final leg with a comfortable lead in the category, but dropped some time with gearbox issues in the morning. The problems were ironed out in service and he made it to the end 48.1sec clear of the field. 

“We drove step by step and took it very calm to the finish. It’s an amazing result because I didn’t think it would be possible,” beamed Palomo. 

“When we had rain, I don’t know why but I had a good feeling and my co-driver and I stayed confident. We managed to do some good times and I am happy.”

Renault Clio Rally4 pilot Andrea Mabellini was Palomo’s nearest challenger. The Italian also punctured on Saturday, but overtook Soria on the Power Stage to claim the position. 

Soria ended 8.9sec behind. He carried a 30sec time penalty for a late check-in and was lucky to finish after busting his Clio’s radiator on the Pedra Sentada jump in Lameirinha. 

Italy’s Roberto Daprà was 4min 38.2sec behind Soria in a Ford Fiesta Rally4, while Joosep Ralf Nogene restarted after a crash on Saturday to complete the leaderboard. 

Early favourite 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.”

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