Fri 22 Apr 2022

Faultless Rossel leaves WRC2 rivals floundering

Yohan Rossel built a comfortable lead in WRC2 as a number of his rivals hit trouble on Friday at the Croatia Rally.

Rossel, starting his second event in the category after winning WRC3 last year, made the perfect start in very challenging circumstances.

Heavy rain resulted in treacherous conditions on the stages, with mud and stones pulled onto the road from frontrunning cars increasing the risk level.

Undeterred, the Citroën C3 Rally2 pilot mounted an early attack and clinched back-to-back wins on the opening three speed tests.

He carried a similar rhythm into the afternoon with a faultless drive which left him 36.3sec clear of Škoda Fabia Rally2 challenger Nikolay Gryazin as well as eighth overall.

“It’s been a really, really challenging day, but I am very happy with my feeling in the car,” said Rossel.

“We have a good gap [to Gryazin], but tomorrow will be a long day and we cannot afford to relax,” he added.

Rossel’s fellow Frenchman Eric Camilli rounded off the leading trio after struggling with his C3’s set-up in the morning. He trailed Gryazin by 22.9sec, but had 9.8sec in hand over Škoda man Kajetan Kajetanowicz, who vowed to focus on his own driving and not on those around him.

Emil Lindholm was fifth and the leading WRC2 Junior entrant in his Fabia. The Finn drove consistently all day to finish 27.7sec behind Kajetanowicz.

Chris Ingram was hot on Lindholm’s heels, a mere 2.2sec behind in his similar Škoda. It was a day of ‘what could have been’ for the British star after punctures demoted him from second to sixth.

Ingram wasn’t the only driver to suffer flat tyres, as Stéphane Lefebvre and Erik Cais also plummeted down the order with similar troubles.

Georg Linnamäe retired his Polo in SS6, while M-Sport Ford pilot Jari Huttunen also went out on the following stage. Osamu Fukunaga’s rally was short-lived when the Japanese hopeful crashed his Fabia on the very first stage.

• Full coverage from the Croatia Rally will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park

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