Fri 10 Mar 2023

Teodósio beats comeback kid Cais to ERC Fafe super special glory

Portugal’s Ricardo Teodósio was the home hero on the streets of Fafe tonight as Erik Cais made amends for his Qualifying Stage roll by going second fastest on stage one of the 2023 FIA European Rally Championship.

Cais was forced to take the ceremonial start on foot this evening while his Orsák Rally Sport mechanics rushed to fix his damaged Škoda Fabia RS Rally2.

But with his Michelin-shod car fully rebuilt following his earlier crash, Czech driver Cais set a 1min 28.1sec and appeared to have emulated his stage-winning performance from last year’s event, only for double national champion Teodósio’s late effort to put the former circuit racer at the top of the overnight order by 0.2sec.

However, with earlier rain making for a slippery road surface, Teodósio couldn’t quite beat the 1min 26.5sec Cais clocked on Fafe’s 1.43-kilometre city super special 12 months ago.

“This is just a thank you to my team,” said Cais after he initially moved to the top of the times. “They repaired the car really well. I tried to be as smooth as possible and it went well. I was quite careful, but the car feels amazing.”

Miko Marczyk, a winner in the ERC last season, was third fastest in another Michelin-equipped Fabia RS Rally2, 1.3sec down on Teodósio. “We are trying to understand the car, but for sure we like these stages and we are happy to be here,” said the two-time Polish champion. “Tomorrow will be a long day with muddy conditions. I hope this gives me a chance to develop as a driver.”

Hayden Paddon and Simone Tempestini were the initial stars on the streets of Fafe. Cheered on by thousands of fans, Paddon and Tempestini both took 1min 29.5sec to complete the challenging test, held on a combination of fast, smooth Tarmac roads and narrow cobblestone streets.

Paddon, a one-time World Rally Championship event winner, followed Team MRF Tyres’ defending ERC champion Efrén Llarena through the stage and outpaced the Spaniard in his Pirelli-equipped Hyundai i20 N Rally2 by 1.6sec.

“No risks at all,” New Zealander Paddon said afterwards. “With the cobblestones, you don't know how much grip there's going to be, so you're definitely playing it on the safe side. A good run and a good warm-up for tomorrow.”

Tempestini, whose Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo is also fitted with Pirelli tyres, started ninth on the road. After equalling Paddon’s effort, the seven-time Romanian champion said: “It’s okay. It’s quite narrow and tricky, but tomorrow the real rally starts and it will be really interesting. Let’s have a good one.”

Filip Mareš produced a clean drive to bag the sixth fastest time, 0.1sec down on the fourth-equal-fastest pair despite reporting a mistake close to the start in his Škoda.

Tom Kristensson was the leading Citroën C3 Rally2 driver in seventh followed Finnish champion Mikko Heikkilä and Hyundai pilot Craig Breen, who was fastest on this afternoon’s Qualifying Stage. ERC rookie Fabrizio Zaldivar completed the top 10.

Rally Serras de Fafe, Felgueiras, Boticas, Vieira do Minho e Cabeceiras de Basto continues tomorrow (Saturday) with the 9.64-kilometre Boticas /Vale do Tamega stage from 08:09 local time. Mads Østberg, 22nd on SS1, will run first on the road.

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