04 Nov 09
But it was this year, again driving his Ralliart Italy car and with Miguel Ramalho as co-driver, that Araujo really got things together. After an encouraging fourth place on the Production series opener in Norway, he looked almost assured of a career first P-WRC victory on the round in Cyprus which followed - until a gearbox problem on the final stage handed the win to Skoda Fabia S2000 driver Patrik Sandell instead.
He was quick to set the record straight. On the next round, Rally Portugal, Araujo stayed out front until the final stage - the Algarve Stadium Super Special - to take an emotional win to the delight of a home crowd of more than 20,000. A maximum 10 points moved him three points clear at the top of the championship table.
Three rallies later, however, Araujo had been toppled from the top spot by Subaru Impreza driver Nasser Al-Attiyah, who had won the rounds in Argentina and Italy and come second in Greece.
But things took an unexpected turn six weeks later when Al-Attiyah was excluded retrospectively from the Acropolis Rally of Greece and stripped of his eight points for having a non-conforming crankshaft in his Impreza. The decision put Armindo back in the lead by two points. Nasser's team appealed the decision but, if the exclusion held, Araujo needed only five points from his last remaining rally to give him an unassailable lead in the title fight.
To boost his chances of success Araujo made a strategic event switch; nominating the Repco Rally Australia instead of the P-WRC season-ending Rally Great Britain as the sixth and final event of his campaign. The long haul event had attracted fewer P-WRC drivers than the British round, so he took the Errani team entry. In the event Araujo still faced tough competition Down Under and looked on course to collect only four points. However on the final stage Araujo found himself in the same lucky position as Sandell in Cyprus. Subaru driver Toshi Arai stopped with a transmission problem, which handed Araujo fourth place and the five points he needed to get an unbeatable 11 point lead in the championship.