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Sat 19 Mar 2022

Dream time a happy time for Araujo

Armindo Araújo starts next week’s Azores Rallye as the driver to beat in the FIA European Rally Championship.

With points leader Nil Solans not contesting round two of the season, Araújo is the highest-placed ERC driver in action on the island spectacular, which takes place from 25-27 March.

It follows the multiple Portuguese champion’s capture of second place overall on Rally Serras de Fafe - Felgueiras - Cabreira e Boticas, a result that completed a hugely successful weekend for Araújo and co-driver Luís Ramalho.

As well as demoting Georg Linnamaë to third overall on the rally-closing Power Stage, Araújo won the Portuguese championship round, which was decided using the results from leg one.

“It was fantastic,” Araújo said. “We won the national championship and we was in the third place all the time [in the overall]. I did a big push in the last stage and I pressed for the second place. For me it’s a dream to finish in second place in the European championship.”

Araújo, a double FIA Production Car World champion, finished third in Fafe last season and admitted his higher placing last weekend was far from easy.

“The last stage was really complicated compared to the difficult conditions we had on the first day,” the 44-year-old said, who drives a Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo for The Racing Factory. “We had some big moments in the Power Stage but I was focused all the time, the time came and I took the second place.”

Of his prospects of another high ERC score on the Azores Rallye, which also doubles as a round of the Portuguese championship, Araújo said: “I will try to do another good result and I think we can do it. It’s a few years since I was last there but I have won in the past so I have good memories.”