Sun 27 Mar 2022

Fotia steals ERC4 glory as Mabellini falters

Anthony Fotia got his championship aspirations back on track by taking victory in ERC4 at the Azores Rallye.

The Frenchman had a torrid start to the year after being disqualified at the season opener, but he took home maximum points on Sao Miguel Island after battling with Andrea Mabellini’s similar Renault Clio Rally4 machine.

A small gearbox issue hindered Fotia on the opening day as Mabellini carried a 3.7sec advantage into Sunday. However, Fotia stormed in front after the first pass of Sete Cidades and when Mabellini punctured a tyre on SS12, the 25-year-old’s lead was in safe hands. 

He eventually finished 56.2sec clear of his rival.

“I am very happy,” said Fotia. “It was a lot better today - I took real pleasure in the car and it’s a good result for our championship.”

“On the second loop we had very big ruts and it was very difficult for the car, but we are here at the finish,” he added.

The next five positions consisted of Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT runners, with Paulo Soria leading the Rally5 charge. The Argentine suffered broken rear suspension on Saturday afternoon but had 3min 16.5sec in hand over his nearest rival Giorgio Cogni at close of play. Sergio Fuentes was 8min 56.7sec down on Cogni.

Emre Hasbay, Ernesto Cunha and Andrea Mazzocchi each restarted after retiring on day one, but the trio were all more than 45min adrift of the leaders by the finish. Roberto Dapra also restarted before stopping again on SS8 with another broken driveshaft, while Patrik Herczig rolled on the penultimate stage. 

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