Tuesday | 04 Aug 2015

Gilbert targets Junior crown at home rally

Quentin Gilbert wants to secure the FIA Junior WRC title at his home rally in France after overcoming a last gasp timing error which almost cost victory at Neste Oil Rally Finland last weekend.

Gilbert has won three of the four rounds in Citroën’s DS 3 R3-MAX and a 33-point lead over Finn Henri Happamäki means he can lift the crown at Tour de Corse Rally de France (1 - 4 October).

“We now have a big lead and an ace up our sleeve. We can head for Corsica and Rally France in a relaxed frame of mind and we want to wrap up the title on home turf,” said Gilbert.

“Winning in Finland for a rally driver is the crowning achievement, it’s a childhood dream come true. Up to now Monte-Carlo was my greatest victory. But Finland is something else, especially beating the Finnish crews who know these roads like the back of their hand,” he added.

Victory was only secured after a dramatic final day. Happamäki charged back from a first leg puncture which cost 2min 30sec to reduce the gap to 12.4sec with one stage remaining.

But Gilbert checked into a control late and the 10sec penalty meant the duo started the test 2.4sec apart. A blistering drive ensured Gilbert held on to win by 0.5sec.

Co-driver Renaud Jamoul admitted his error. “It was a big mistake, the first time in 13 years. But thanks to Quentin because in the last stage he deleted my mistake and I’m the happiest man alive.

“Before the stage I asked Quentin: ‘What do you want to do? We can maybe secure second for the championship or we can try to win’. He said he didn’t want to lose the victory so we pushed without too much risk and in the end it was just enough,” he said.

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