Jan Solans showed blistering pace in Friday’s final speed test to secure a comfortable category lead in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship at Wales Rally GB.
In classic Rally GB conditions, the young Spaniard guided his Ford Fiesta R2 along the muddy forest tracks to take five stage wins after being locked into a ding-dong battle with title challenger Tom Kristensson.
However, as the crews emerged from the darkness of the final Aberhirnant test, it was Solans who went 15.8sec quicker than his nearest rival and held a lead of 16.3sec heading into Saturday. Kristensson had opted for a steady approach in the slippery conditions.
"It's my first time on this kind of surface so I surprised myself a little bit with my pace," said Solans. "I am fully focused on what I need to do right now and taking more stage wins is really helping. It has been a really great fight with Tom so far."
Swedish pilot Dennis Rådström had snatched a slender lead after Thursday night’s curtain-raiser at Oulton Park, but his winning hopes were dashed early on Friday when his Fiesta left the road in Dyfnant. Roland Poom also suffered an early bath when he broke a driveshaft.
"We were just following the lines and got into the ruts. There was a stone which made quite a heavy impact and broke something at the front end, causing us to go off the road," explained Rådström.
Sean Johnston sits in a distant third place, three minutes back from the dicing duo out in front, whilst Briton Tom Williams is on course for a career-best result in fourth. Fabrizio Zaldivar also enjoyed a drama-free run throughout the day and holds onto fifth place.
Saturday’s leg is set to be a marathon for our crews. The first car leaves parc fermé here in Llandudno at 0540hrs and won’t return until 1939hrs in the evening. Crews will tackle classic stages including Myherin. Dyfi and Sweet Lamb Hafren.