Sat 22 Apr 2023

Engine issues pile pressure on WRC3 leader Pellier

Laurent Pellier will be hoping to get to the bottom of the engine issues which hampered his Ford Fiesta Rally3 on Saturday at Croatia Rally, slicing his lead by over two minutes.

With overnight leader William Creighton rolling out of contention in Saturday’s opening stage, Frenchman Pellier found himself with a comfortable 4min 15sec advantage over second-placed Eamonn Kelly, who was locked into a tight tussle with Belgium’s Tom Rensonnet.

But the defending FIA Junior ERC champion faced some unnerving moments when his Fiesta began to experience engine troubles, suspected to be head gasket related, forcing him to temporarily pull over in the stage which immediately followed midday service. 

It required an entire rethink for the 28-year-old, whose all-out charge quickly turned into a battle of survival as he nursed the poorly car through the day’s three remaining stages. As a result, he saw his lead pulled back to just 1min 34sec over Rensonnet, who completed the day 30.3sec clear of Kelly in third.

Roberto Blach returned to action after retiring on Friday and picked up two stage wins to end fourth, and there was also a brace of stage victories for fellow returnee Filip Kohn. 

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