Torn survives crash scare to stay top of ERC3
Ken Torn continues to lead the FIA ERC3 Championship order on Rally di Roma Capitale despite running wide and hitting a wall, which damaged his left-rear wheel.
Estonian Autosport Junior Team’s young talent, who has won the last two ERC3 events in a row, came under pressure from Erik Cais (ACCR Czech Rally Team) on Sunday morning, his lead being cut from 22.1s to 15.9 on the first two stages.
Torn recouped all the time he’d lost to Cais on Rocca Santo Stefano but disaster nearly struck on the final stage of the loop, Guarcino.
Outbraking himself at a corner late on the 11.75 kilometre test, Torn ran wide and hit a wall, breaking his left-rear suspension.
But thanks to being so close to the finish, Torn’s time loss was minimal, dropping only 1.9s to Cais, with the Czech driver slowing momentarily for yellow flags.
Neither were setting the pace however, as a determined Florian Bernardi pulled off a clean sweep of stage wins to charge from fifth to third in ERC3.
Bernardi had started leg two 25s behind third-placed Rally Team Spain pilot Efrén Llarena and was in unstoppable form, going 8.9s faster than anyone on Guarcino alone.
Llarena finished the loop 1.8s behind Bernardi in fourth but spent the morning with one eye on Roman Schwedt (Team ROMO), who is chasing his maiden ERC3 Junior podium finish.
With Bernardi ineligible for the ERC3 Junior title, Llarena and Schwedt are still battling for third in the Junior class, with Schwedt closing the gap to a mere 0.2s by stage nine.
A quick recovery on Guarcino increased Llarena’s advantage to 3.9s, with the ERC3 podium battle covered by 5.7s.
Jan Talaš (ACCR Czech Rally Team) and Orhan Avcioğlu (Toksport WRT) remain secure in sixth and seventh place in ERC3, with Talaš also completing the top five in ERC3 Junior.
Gregor Jeets, Torn’s team-mate at Estonian Autosport Junior Team, retired from eighth place only two kilometres into the day-opening Affile-Bellegra stage with broken suspension.
With Sindre Furuseth (Saintéloc Junior Team) not restarting after his crash from the lead on Saturday, Grégoire Munster (ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team) picked up eighth place, restarting after retiring from second place on stage five yesterday.
With Emma Falcón dropping down to P11 in ERC1, ninth-placed ERC3 debutant Cristiana Oprea has now taken the ERC Ladies’ Trophy lead ahead of Catie Munnings (Peugeot Rally Academy), who also completes the top 10 in ERC3.
Pedro Antunes returned after his stage one retirement on Saturday and is P11. Elias Lundberg (ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team) and James Williams did not restart after their leg one retirements.