- Sep 29, 2009
Where it was expected to see Manuel De Samaniego win quite easily. But Sandro Pinho and Magnar Haarstadsveen had other ideas for the opening round!
One of the longest lasting championships on RaceDepartment, got off to a great start at the Jänner Rallye in the first weekend of March. Manuel De Samaniego was the big favorite heading in to the rally, but with tricky conditions, spanning four different surfaces over the 10 stages, and with some stages having three different surfaces. Tyre choices would prove crucial for a good result in the rally. The differences between the correct and wrong tyres, could be up to 50 seconds on just one stage.
Sandro Pinho started the new season with a bang, winning the first stage ahead of Erik Tveit, with the reigning champion Manuel De Samaniego, down in third.
As the conditions changed, Sandro first lost the lead to Manuel, then also the second place to Magnar Haarstadsveen who is driving in a slightly slower R5-car. It all looked like business as usual at this point.
However, that would not be the case. Going into Stage 4 to 6, the forecast showed slight rain and snow, so tyre choice would be the deciding factor. The fourth stage was only tarmac, and Manuel managed to take 22 seconds on Sandro Pinho at that stage. But with more snow on the fifth and sixth stage, the Portuguese took over 35 seconds on Manuel, and over a minute on Haarstadsveen on those two stages. That even included a trip of the road, and the fight for the win was back on.
Onto stage 7 and 8, the snow was even more heavy, and reports suggested that the eight stage of the rally was completely covered in snow. So studded tyres was the way to go on this shorter loop of stages, even though seventh stage did have some tarmac-areas.
Sandro Pinho was yet again a little bit faster than De Samaniego, but on the snow covered 8th stage. The Mexican driver beat Pinho with almost 8 seconds, and extended his lead into the last two stages.
On the ninth stage of the rally Sandro Pinho crushed Manuel, and was 16.1 seconds faster, going into the lead with 1.7 seconds into the last stage of the rally.
Pushing hard on the stage, not knowing the other drivers' time, Sandro had done a very good stage, until the last corner.
The last corner, on the last stage of the rally, being in the lead. Pinho went into the concrete. And lost much time, he didn't even post a top 15 time on the stage. The rally win was going to the Mexican Manuel De Samaniego.
But Manuel had even more issues. And actually lost over 14 seconds to Pinho on the last stage. Being beaten by the majority of the RDRC-2 drivers as well.
The first round of the season was won by Sandro Pinho, ahead of Manuel De Samaniego and the R5-car of Magnar Haarstadsveen.
In the RDRC-2 class for amateur drivers, in less powerful cars the fight was more straight forward, with the Estonian Karl Raudsepp leading from start to finish. He only took two stage-wins, but setting a top 5 time in the class on 9 of 10 stages, in these conditions, are just extremely impressive. Raudsepp also managed to get 5th overall in the rally.
Second in RDRC-2, and also winner of the Group A Cup was Oscar Hardwick in his old Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3. Hardwick only won the last stage in RDRC-2, but just like Raudsepp he was able to set competitive times throughout the whole rally to take the car home in a secure second place.
Third, and probably the biggest surprise in the rally, was the rookie Jon Grainger, in his first RDRC-rally, in what is arguably the hardest rally of the season. Grainger took one stage-win, and took the last podium position in RDRC-2. Beating the fourth placed driver with well over 2 minutes. Managing some overall points in the process.
While the RDRC-2 had less fights, the class saw 7 different stage winners on 10 stages, so the class have potential to be close in the whole season. A good example of this is Norbert Leitner in the sole Opel Corsa, climbing from 8th to 4th on the last two stages.
A very entertaining, and competitive Jänner Rallye is finished, and the championship moves to Norway, and a snow rally for the next round. We hope to see you all in Norway as well!
Points Table after the first round:
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