Sat 01 Jun 2024

Sardinia sabotages Junior WRC runners in day of drama

A huge day of drama in the Junior WRC saw the leaderboard turned on its head as Romet Jürgenson, Bruno Bulacia and Ali Türkkan all fell on their swords.

Paraguayan runner Diego Dominguez will go into the final day atop the standings after the South American came out strong against a backdrop of chaos in the battle for the rally lead.

Championship leader Romet Jürgenson began Saturday in first place and won the opening stage before retiring his Ford Fiesta Rally3 Evo on the road section prior to SS7 with a damaged wishbone.

Moving into top spot was Bolivian runner Bruno Bulacia. The South American secured a stage win on SS6 and maintained the lead until the penultimate test when his front right suspension bent outwards after an impact, ending his day in disappointment and seemingly handing Turkkan a 56.3sec advantage over second place going into the final day.

That was, until a final twist saw the Ford Castrol Team Türkiye-backed pilot incur 1min 30sec worth of time penalties for a late check-in, handing Dominguez the rally lead.

“I cannot believe this. We have no words to be honest. Just happy!” Dominguez elated at the stop line of SS12.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Dominguez. He spun his car in SS5 but went on to secure a brace of stage wins, and heads Türkkan by 1min 3.1sec going into Sunday’s four-stage finale. Max Smart completed the podium a further 19.7sec in arrears.

“It’s amazing to be back on gravel.” South Africa’s Smart quipped at the end of SS12. “It’s been a great day in the car.”

Smart held a 28.4sec buffer over Kazakhstani driver Petr Borodin in fourth, while FIA Junior ERC champion Norbert Maior recovered from an early puncture yesterday to sit fifth. Maior ended 1min 52.9sec ahead of FIA Rally Star runner Taylor Gill, who completed SS8 onwards with a broken front right brake disc.

Jürgenson and Bulacia weren’t the only drivers to feel the force of Sardinia’s rough gravel roads, with Nataniel Bruun and Fabio Schwarz both suffering from Power Steering problems on SS8.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM