Saturday | 23 May 2015

Gilbert on course for Junior WRC honours

Quentin Gilbert maintained his grip on the Junior WRC class of Vodafone Rally de Portugal on Saturday, despite a last stage scare that almost cost him the lead.

The Frenchman began the day with an 8.2sec advantage over Terry Folb but found himself almost a minute in front after Folb crashed out on the opening stage.

Fastest on SS9 and SS10, Gilbert pulled further ahead as the day progressed, and he began the final stage more than 2min ahead of closest rival Ole Christian Veiby.

But even with that handsome margin Gilbert feared the worst when he hit a rock and had to stop midway through the stage. And there was more drama soon afterwards when Veiby rolled his DS 3 R3 Max into retirement.

Gilbert said: "When we heard Terry had problems we backed off and we were cautious in the second loop. In SS13, in the shadow of the forest, I hit a rock. I stopped, thinking I might have a puncture. But the wheel was broken and that caused a leak in the damper. Tomorrow, we will be even more cautious."

Veiby's exit promoted 18-year-old Pierre-Louis Loubet into second. The Frenchman is 2min46.7sec behind with three stages still to go. Finland's Henri Haapamaki is third, 2min09.6sec further back. Jean-Rene Perry is fourth, with the retiring Veiby classified fifth.

The rough stages brought more problems for the Junior WRC field, with Simone Tempestini and Federico Della Casa both affected by punctures in the morning loop. Dean Raftery restarted this morning but retired for a second time with an electrical problem.

More News