Sun 14 Apr 2024

Total Tempestini in ERC but it’s round one despair for Heikkilä again

First-time winner Simone Tempestini landed a dramatic FIA European Rally Championship victory following a sensational finish to the 2024 season-opening V-Híd Rally Hungary this afternoon (Sunday, 14 April).

Driving a Michelin-equipped Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, Tempestini moved into contention when he won SS3 on Saturday before going on to complete the opening leg 6.3sec behind overnight leader Mikko Heikkilä.


The former FIA Junior WRC champion, who is co-driven by compatriot Sergiu Itu, made further progress on Sunday morning when Heikkilä dropped out of first place with a mechanical failure on SS10.


When Mārtiņš Sesks crashed out two stages from home in his Toyota Yaris Rally2, Tempestini was handed a 7.7sec lead to maintain over the event-deciding Power Stage.

Although the Keane Motorsport driver always looked in control, his path to glory was eased when defending European champion Hayden Paddon suffered a damaged front-left tyre on his Hyundai i20 N Rally2 on SS13 and dropped back to fourth, as Mathieu Franceschi scored his first ERC podium in second place with the fastest time on the Power Stage, in matching machinery to winner Tempestini.


And there was plenty of reason for local celebration when Hungarian hero Miklós Csomós completed the top three in his Pirelli-equipped Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo. “It feels really, really amazing,” said 29-year-old Tempestini, an eight-time winner of the Romanian championship.


“We did a really good rally, Sergiu did really nice pacenotes, he was perfect and I’m really happy because it’s my first rally with this car in the ERC and she wins. It’s really nice, I’m really happy.”

But while Tempestini celebrated victory number one in the FIA European Rally Championship by 17.0sec, there was despair for Heikkilä on an ERC season opener for the second year running.


“It seems to be always like this, luck is not with us,” the dejected Finn said having led by 10.1sec aboard his Michelin-supported Toyota GR Yaris Rally2. “First the rim broke and after that we lost all the suspension. Of course it’s all the time hitting but nothing special so I really cannot understand why we lost the wheel.”


Sesks was the next rally leader to fall, damaging the left-rear of his Team MRF Tyres-entered Toyota 7.8 kilometres from the start of the penultimate stage, the 10.25-kilometre Tés run. The Latvian had been leading by 6.8sec prior to his premature exit, which occurred after he got out of shape on a high-speed left-hander and struck what appeared to be a tree stump on the inside of the corner.

Home hero Miklós Csomós didn’t let a heavy left-rear impact on SS10 and a two-wheel moment on SS11 knock him off his stride on his way to third overall, 12.9sec behind Franceschi, who hit back from rolling on SS3 to score four fastest stage times during the event.


Despite dropping time when he ran over a bank after overshooting a junction on SS8, Erik Cais moved his Fabia RS Rally2 ahead of Miko Marczyk's Fabia on SS11 after the Polish ORLEN Team driver suffered a second damaged tyre of the day. There was a further deflation for Marczyk on SS13, but he still completed the top six ahead of Andrea Mabellini in another Fabia, ERC3 champion Jon Armstrong in a Ford Fiesta Rally2 and Simon Wagner, also driving a Fabia.


Filip Mareš rounded out the top 10 driving a Hankook-equipped Toyota, followed by Dakar Rally finisher Vladas Jurkevičius. Frigyes Turán beat Martin László to 12th by 3.9sec after his fellow Hungarian dropped time with a costly spin on SS12. Giacomo Costenaro, on his first ERC start since 2016, and Kristóf Klausz filled out the provisional top 15.

After stopping with radiator damage on SS3 yesterday, 2022 ERC champion Efrén Llarena was as non-starter on leg two.

 

ERC title contender Mads Østberg was declared a non-starter after he was hospitalised with a lung infection on Friday morning. Although the Norwegian is already in recovery mode, he was ordered to rest rather than chase back-to-back Rally Hungary victories.

 

The race to win the 2024 FIA European Rally Championship continues on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria next month with the 48th edition of Rally Islas Canarias from 2-4 May, the first of five Tarmac-based ERC rounds this season.

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