Wed 30 Mar 2022

Vote for your star driver at the Azores Rallye

It’s that time again! Round two of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) at the Azores Rallye was a thriller.

Crazy weather, amazing roads and some stand-out performances. The Azores Rallye certainly served up plenty of talking points. 

Now it’s time to put everything else aside and vote for your star driver. Who do you want to see recognised for their efforts?

Introducing the nominees:

Efrén Llarena
Position: 1st overall

We all knew Llarena had the rally-winning pace in him. It was just a case of everything coming together in the right place at the right time. 

It turned out that Ribeira Grande, in the middle of Sao Miguel Island, on a Sunday afternoon in March, was that time. But could he do it on a cold, rainy night in Burnley? Yeah, probably.

The Spaniard’s career-defining drive through the Power Stage showed pure class as he stole a maiden ERC victory for himself, co-driver Sara Fernández and Team MRF Tyres. 

 

Ricardo Moura
Position: 2nd overall

Local man Moura is, by his own admission, ‘just a hobby driver nearing the end of his career.’ Considering he led from the first stage only to lose out in the final metres, we disagree. 

Setting such pace on an ERC round takes a lot of talent, and it’s even more impressive when you consider that Moura hadn’t driven competitively for six months prior to the rally.   

His recent lack of seat time was probably the difference between first and second and we truly hope to see him back for vengeance next year.

Simon Wagner
Position: 3rd overall

It was great to witness the Austrian’s ERC comeback, and even greater to see him take his first stage win en-route to a podium result as well as shared ERC-Michelin Talent Factory honours. 

Wagner has always been quick on asphalt, but even he was surprised at the pace he managed to set on gravel at the weekend. 

The first overall win can not be far away…

Simone Tempestini
Position: 4th overall

After crashing out on the Power Stage in Fafe, the Romanian recovered in style and left Ponta Delgada with a solid haul of points. 

An unsteady start put Tempestini down in 11th, but he fought back up the order with unrivalled commitment and bagged two Sunday stage wins along the way. This helped set him up to share ERC-Michelin Talent Factory top billing with Simon Wagner.

Martins Sesks
Position: 10th overall, 1st in ERC Open

Sesks once again proved he is one to watch for the future. He barely put a wheel wrong in his Skoda Fabia Rally2 Kit and won ERC Open by over five minutes. 

A power-sapping boost issue on the final day was frustrating, but the 22-year-old soldiered on with a mature drive. Nicely done.    

Javier Pardo 
Position: 13th overall

Last weekend taught us that Pardo is just as skilled on the tools as he is behind the wheel.  

The Spaniard was looking good for a top-five finish but plummeted down the order when a broken driveshaft in the final loop made his Fabia almost impossible to handle.  

He tackled the issue ahead of the Power Stage by swapping the driveshaft from back to front, resulting in a (slightly!) more driveable car. Impressive. 

Anthony Fotia
Position: 1st in ERC4

Fotia had a nightmare start to the season when he was excluded from Rally Serras de Fafe - Felgueiras - Cabreira e Boticas. 

He more than made up for it two weeks later by taking the top spot in ERC4 after a sizzling duel with fellow Clio Rally4 pilot Andrea Mabellini. What a turnaround. 

Paulo Soria 
Position: Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT winner

The likeable Argentine absolutely dominated the opening round of the Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT, leading from start to finish with Marcelo Der Ohannesian alongside. 

Soria remained 100 per cent composed despite nursing a broken rear suspension damper on Saturday afternoon. His winning margin of 3min 16.5sec speaks volumes. 

Jon Armstrong
Position: 1st in ERC3

An early bath on day one dashed the Ulsterman’s hopes of an overall result, but the pace he showed in underpowered machinery was truly amazing. 

Armstrong caused a stir as he placed M-Sport Poland’s Ford Fiesta Rally3 inside the top ten on several stages. His giant-killing pace deserves recognition. 

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM