Egon Kaur has made it two wins out of two after claiming victory on the second event of the FIA WRC Academy season, Rally d’Italia Sardegna, which finished in Olbia this evening (Saturday).
Kaur, who triumphed on the inaugural event in Portugal in late March, produced an incredible comeback drive from a mishap on day two to win after overnight leader Christian Riedemann retired when his car’s driveshaft failed leaving the start of Saturday’s opening test.
Estonian Kaur thought his hopes of a repeat Academy success had been dashed when he went of the road on Friday’s second stage and lost more than four minutes. However, the 23-year old, one of 18 rising stars in action, produced a determined drive, setting five fastest stage times before snatching the lead on stage 10.
At the midday service in Olbia, Kaur admitted his shock that he was leading in one of the 18 identical Academy Ford Fiesta R2s, which use Pirelli control tyres. “It’s crazy,” he said. “The plan was to keep going and remain focussed, but I really didn’t think I’d be back in the lead by lunchtime today. To think I’m leading after going off for so long yesterday, and now I might even win two rounds out of two of the WRC Academy is amazing.”
And, that’s exactly what he did. Over the afternoon’s final three stages, Kaur drove cautiously to ensure he reached the finish line without losing top spot. As a result he takes his second haul of 25 points in as many rallies, plus the extra five points he scores for setting five fastest stage times. With 58 points to his name after two rounds, Kaur’s WRC Academy campaign could hardly have got off to a better start.
Argentinian Miguel Baldoni maintained his mature, level-headed approach to this event throughout the final day’s stages as he capitalised on the misfortune of others to claim a fine second position. The 23-year-old finished 1m42.1s behind Kaur and scores 18 points towards his title tally on top of the eight he earned in Portugal.
Swede Fredrik Ahlin took the final podium position as he too drove with his eye on a strong finish. The Pirelli Star driver inherited the lead of the rally on stage nine when Riedemann retired, but he slipped to fourth on the following test. He was promoted to third on stage 11 when Russia’s Sergey Karyakin stopped following a heavy landing after the Monte Lerno jump.
Czech Jan Cerny restarted under SupeRally rules and claimed fourth ahead of Australian and fellow Pirelli Star Driver Brendan Reeves in fifth. Reeves also retired on day one, as did Pirell-backed Italian Andrea Crugnola who came home sixth.
Irishman Craig Breen scored two further fastest stage times on Saturday, matching his performance on the opening day. Breen ran as high as fifth during this afternoon’s stages but rear hub failure on the final stage cost him more than three minutes. The 21-year-old was able to nurse his car to the end of the rally to finish in seventh position thanks to the efforts of co-driver Gareth Roberts who dutifully leaned out of the side of their Fiesta to help balance the crippled machine on the road section.
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"The plan was to keep going and remain focussed, but I really didn’t think I’d be back in the lead by lunchtime today"