Sat 08 Jul 2023

Reiersen resists Hallberg for maiden Junior ERC win

Isak Reiersen scored an impressive maiden FIA Junior ERC victory on BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia today (Saturday) – despite late drama for the Swedish teenage star.

With Lucas Karlsson co-driving, Reiersen was on course for a seemingly comfortable win in the Hankook-supported category only for a troubled SS11 to drop him behind his fellow Swede Patrik Hallberg.

Leading by 30.7sec on the back of a dominant display, Reiersen picked up tyre damage four kilometres from the end of SS11 and lost more than 34sec as he struggled to the finish line with his Ford Fiesta Rally4’s front-left wheel on the rim.

His delay handed the initiative to compatriot Hallberg, only for Hallberg to briefly go off the road nearing the finish of SS12, putting Reiersen back ahead by 5.0sec at the midday service halt in Karlstad.

Intent on going on a “big push” through this afternoon’s four stages, Reiersen secured a deserved victory in his native Värmland region by 9.1sec with Hallberg taking the runner-up spot, in another Fiesta, on his ERC debut.

“It was a great day yesterday, we had some trouble today and had to start over again, but we made up the time and we won, I’m very happy,” said Reiersen, who also took top honours in the FIA ERC4 category.

Of his earlier delay, Reiersen explained what had gone wrong: “We hit an anti-cut around four kilometres before the end of stage 11. It was a slow front-left puncture and around two kilometres before the finish we were driving on the rim. We were struggling a bit with changing the tyre because the heat made the nuts very tight. Eventually after hitting it with some rocks and doing some real work we got it loose and could change the tyre, but it was almost the last try and I bent the wheel brace jumping on it.

“It wasn’t unfair on me because the anti-cuts are still there for the others. It was a fault of my own and it was really stupid actually, but it shows how quickly anything can happen. It was good we had those 30 seconds to still be in the match!”

Hallberg moved in front by 0.4sec following SS11 but his advantage at the top was short-lived following his brief off on SS12. “It was just very slippery and when I braked we went off line and into the ditch but luckily we got out quite quickly,” Hallberg said. “Isak was fast, but I was comfortable with my pace and happy with my result.”

Mille Johansson, the youngest driver in the field having turned 18 in April, moved into third when Max McRae was forced out with broken steering on Friday afternoon. And he held the position until SS11 when Norbert Maior moved ahead after Johansson admitted “I got a bit out of focus, the pace notes were not so good”.

Co-driven by his sister Francesca, Romanian Maior made it three Junior ERC podiums in a row in third aboard his Peugeot 208 Rally4 having resorted to crowdfunding to raise the necessary funds to take part.

Having overtaken Maior on SS9, Roberto Daprà slipped back a place on SS10 but held on for fourth. The ACI Team Italia driver was followed home by Johansson and Ola Nore, the winner of the opening two rounds of the season. Nore completed SS12 with a bent rear axle following a trip into a ditch but held on to score important points aboard his Renault Clio Rally4, retaining the championship lead.

Simon Andersson, driving a Clio in Junior ERC for the first time, demoted his fellow Swede Victor Hansen for seventh on SS15 after a mechanical issue slowed Hansen’s Peugeot.

Delayed by a damaged tyre on SS2, Mark-Egert Tiits battled back to finish ninth with Alfred Kramer completing the top 10. The gravel novice was delayed by an overshoot and a gearbox issue as he scored his best Junior ERC finish to date.

Max McRae restarted on Saturday following his exit Friday’s seventh stage, which the Scot explained was triggered by a damaged tyre. “We picked it up about eight kilometres into stage seven. While we were turning on full lock trying to get through the stage, we hit another rock and broke the steering and a driveshaft. We were doing really well and were hoping to carry that onto the podium which would have been really good points for the championship, but it wasn’t meant to be, unfortunately.”

McRae finished 11th with Timo Schulz and Patrice Spitalier rounding out the finishers as Mattia Zanin retired after hitting an anti-cut on SS12.

Damage following her roll on SS2 meant Aoife Raftery was a non-starter on the second leg. Miko Jalava also didn’t return to the action following his withdrawal due to illness after Friday’s opening test.

Rally di Roma Capitale hosts round three of the Hankook-equipped FIA Junior ERC Championship from 28 - 30 July.

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