Sat 20 May 2023

Armstrong aims high in ERC3 after on-stage delay

Jon Armstrong hit back from a lengthy delay on Saturday’s penultimate stage to reach the overnight halt of ORLEN 79th Rally Poland on top in the FIA ERC3 Championship.

Armstrong was almost 2min 30secs ahead in the Rally3 category when he was forced to change a rear-left wheel on stage seven. But swift work by Armstrong and co-driver Cameron Fair ensured they remained in front in their M-Sport Poland Ford Fiesta Rally3.

“Overall it’s been a good day and the pace against the other Rally3s has been really good so we have to focus on that as the positive and get back on it tomorrow,” Northern Irishman Armstrong said. “We knew we had a lead in hand and it crossed my mind to drive to the finish [rather than stopping to change the wheel] but I think it would have ended up causing too much damage. But it definitely wasn’t the end of the world.

“We lost a big section of the front bumper on a rough section [on SS5] and we were concerned a rock could go in through the radiator so I guess I was a little bit cautious after that in the rough sections. Other than that we’ve been driving pretty hard.”

Jakub Matulka is in second place on his ERC3 debut, 31.1sec behind Armstrong. However, his fellow Polish Fiesta Rally3 driver Piotr Parys rolled into retirement on stage five.

Paulo Soria, who is giving Renault’s Clio Rally3 its international-level debut in Poland, was in second position after two stages only for a wheel change to drop him out of contention before a roll forced his retirement on stage seven.

In the FIA ERC4 Championship for Rally4 and Rally5 cars, Junior ERC pacesetter Ola Nore tops the standings in a Renault Clio Rally4. The Norwegian is ahead of his Junior ERC rivals Norbert Maior, Roberto Daprà and Victor Hansen with Toyota Gazoo Racing development driver Hikaru Kogure in fifth position.

After stopping on SS1 with a broken driveshaft, Yuki Yamamoto restarted this morning and gave a demonstration of what might have been with five fastest stage times, including on the repeat of the Mikołajki Arena super special to round out the day.

ERC4 championship leader Norman Kreuter (pictured below) made getting through the challenging gravel stages his priority after early confidence issues. He’s 16th in class while Bendéguz Hangodi, who won ERC4 on Rally Islas Canarias earlier this month, is in 12th position, two places behind newcomer Christoph Brugger.

Tymoteusz Jocz is 14th after he was delayed by a damaged tyre this morning and a driveshaft issue prior to SS8. Nao Otake was fourth overnight but crashed into a tree on SS2.

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