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Sat 27 Aug 2022

Pellier puts one hand on crown in Junior ERC title fight

FIA Junior ERC champion-elect Laurent Pellier took another step towards clinching the crown this weekend with a dominant performance on Saturday at Barum Czech Rally Zlín.

  • Full coverage from Barum Czech Rally Zlín 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.

“It was a perfect day for us,” Pellier acknowledged. “It was our first time driving in the rain with the Corsa Rally4, but it seems to work just as well in those conditions as it does in the dry. I really enjoyed the day. We obviously have a comfortable lead now, but there’s still a long day ahead tomorrow and nothing is won yet.”

Mabellini – who topped the timesheets on SS5 – sits second overnight, with 28.9sec in hand over Óscar Palomo, the only man who can still deny Pellier the championship trophy. The Spaniard briefly climbed to second at the end of the morning loop, but lost time on SS6 due to bent rear suspension and has a mountain to climb on Sunday if he is to keep his title hopes alive.

The same three drivers lead the classification in the ERC4 category, meaning Mabellini and Pellier are on-course to prolong that particular battle to Spain at the end of October.

Andrea Mabellini began the day in the Junior ERC lead after setting the pace on last night’s Zlín city centre super special, but Opel Corsa driver Pellier wasted no time at all in hitting back, supplanting the Italian at the top of the leaderboard on SS2 and going on to extend that advantage to 43.9sec by the end of the leg, courtesy of five stage wins out of six.

For the Frenchman, the maths this weekend are simple. Win the rally, and he is champion. Finish second or lower, and the title fight goes on to the season finale in Catalunya. So far, so good.