Lemes appeared to have made the most of overnight leader Craig Breen’s exit on Saturday’s second stage to reach the finish in Strasbourg 42.3 clear of Fisher, who was celebrating his first podium in the young driver-training category following an accomplished performance on Rallye de France Alsace.
However, Lemes’ celebrations were cut short when he was informed of the decision of the event stewards to drop him to third in the final classification, which promoted Fisher to first and Spaniard Jose Suarez to second.
“Of course it’s disappointing to drop to third after receiving a five-minute penalty,” said Lemes. “However, it’s still great to have my second podium in a row and Alastair is a great driver so I am very happy for him.”
Fisher said: “Lemes won the rally on the stages and he did an awesome job. Of course it’s good to win the WRC Academy here in France but let’s hope I can put in the times and win on home ground on Rally GB next month.”
Despite his early exit when he slid into a bank one kilometre from the end of stage 10 and broke a driveshaft on his Ford Fiesta R2, Breen had some reason to remain positive as he headed home to his native Ireland. With WRC Academy Cup title leader Egon Kaur not scoring after going off the road on Friday and Saturday, Breen is now just 20 points behind the Estonian with one round remaining after he collected six bonus points for recording six fastest stage times.
“I’ve made a hell of a lot of mistakes in my career but this time Gareth [Roberts, my co-driver] was a wee bit late with the note for a slow left corner,” said Breen. “We went into a bank and broke the driveshaft. That’s why we couldn’t carry on. But we’re not giving up on the title, no way.”
Just eight WRC Academy runners reached the finish following a tough two-day rally. Germany’s Sepp Wiegand was fourth on only his second WRC Academy outing with Pirelli Star Driver Molly Taylor, from Australia, scoring a season-best fifth on her least favourite surface. Dutchman Timo van der Marel completed the top six. Estonian Miko-Ove Niinemae was seventh with Swede Fredrik Ahlin eighth and last.
Of the drivers to hit trouble, Christian Riedemann stopped with broken suspension on stage 13, Brendan Reeves retired from fourth position with a broken clutch on the penultimate stage, Jan Cerny crashed into a ditch on stage 10, Sergey Karyakin and Andrea Crugnola both went off on stage 12 with Crugnola inflicting substantial front-end damage to his Fiesta after striking a tree.
Ashley Haigh-Smith’s WRC Academy debut was curtailed when he crashed on stage two. The South African was taken to hospital in Strasbourg with a fractured shoulder and collarbone. His British co-driver James Aldridge suffered minor injuries and was released from hospital after checks.
The WRC Academy concludes on Wales Rally GB in mid-November.
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"...let’s hope I can put in the times and win on home ground on Rally GB next month."