09 May 10
Jari Ketomaa and co-driver Mika Stenberg have won round four of the Super 2000 World Rally Championship. The Finns led the category from the outset to beat fellow Ford Fiesta pair Xevi Pons and Alex Haro by almost one minute.
The victory was Ketomaa’s first in the S-WRC and makes up for a disappointing debut on the Jordan Rally last month when he retired from the first two days of the event and needed SupeRally to reach the finish.
Although Ketomaa’s triumph in New Zealand was richly deserved, it took the intervention of his Shanghai FCACA Rally Team mechanics to repair a faulty cam sensor, which had threatened to ruin his rally when it began to malfunction on Friday.
“We didn’t feel much pressure but it wasn’t easy either,” said Ketomaa. “Although we had some problems with the car on Friday we always had the performance but I still need more confidence before I can really push. But I am really happy with the result, especially for my team.”
Second place for Pons has enabled the Spaniard to increase his grip on the inaugural S-WRC crown following back-to-back victories in Mexico and Jordan. Pons conceded that he was under a degree of pressure on the final morning when Martin Prokop posted a succession of rapid times in his Fiesta. However, Prokop was unable to dislodge Pons from second place.
“I had to concentrate a lot when Martin started to close but it wasn’t really a problem,” said Pons. “This is a great result for me because it really helps with the championship.”
Prokop added: “It was fast but slippery like hell this morning. We lost too much time on the medium- fast hairpins and although this is a good result we need to start winning if we are to challenge for the championship.”
Patrik Sandell was the highest Skoda Fabia finisher in fourth overall with Nasser Al-Attiyah fifth in a similar car. Both drivers spun on the final stage but were able to make it to the finish with their Fabias largely unscathed.
Unable to test before the event, Sandell never truly recovered from a scary moment on Friday’s second stage when he struck a giant bird when it flew into his path. The resulting damage to his Fabia’s windscreen restricted his vision and lowered his confidence.
Al-Attiyah dropped time when he overshot a junction on the Te Akau Coast stage on Saturday morning after leaving his braking too late. The Qatari also admitted that his team’s lack of spare parts meant he couldn’t push as he would have liked in the event of damaging his car.
Janne Tuohino inflicted considerable damage to his Fiesta when he rolled on Friday’s sixth stage. Following extensive repairs, Tuohino rejoined on day two under SupeRally regulations but withdrew before the finish.
Albert Llovera’s bid to restart his Fiat Abarth Grande Punto on day three faltered due to damage sustained to his engine on Saturday.
Rally results links on wrc.com:
Follow this link to see the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship standings after Rally New Zealand.
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