Opel Juniors in Exciting Battle for Title
- Opel drivers Huttunen and Ingram drive to podium finish at Rally di Roma
- Dramatic four-way battle for ERC Junior 2017 championship
- Opel driver Molinaro wins Ladies‘ Trophy ahead of time at home event
Rüsselsheim/Rome. Opel narrowly missed capturing first place at the penultimate FIA ERC Junior U27 season event, the Rally di Roma Capitale. After twelve extremely demanding special stages around the Italian capital of Rome, Finnish Opel works driver Jari Huttunen (23, from Kiuruvesi) was just 4.9 seconds behind Czech Filip Mares. Briton Chris Ingram (23, from Manchester) took third place in a second Opel works ADAM R2. This was the first time in 14 months that the winner of a FIA ERC Junior event was not an Opel driver.
Opel Motorsport Director Jörg Schrott congratulated the victorious opponent: “I am very disappointed that we didn’t win because a victory would have been possible. But the competition at the head of the ERC Junior is so intense that you have to constantly deliver your best performance at any time. As we didn’t manage that perfectly here in Rome, our long chain of victories got interrupted. Compliments to Filip Mares, who drove really well the whole weekend and deserved the victory.”
After the first leg both Opel works drivers Huttunen and Ingram still led the Junior ratings, but on the third day rival Mares turned the tables during erratic weather conditions that sometimes made choosing tires a guessing game. “Especially on Sunday morning during the over 32 kilometer-long special stage 7 and the following special stage 8 we lost too much time,” said a peeved Huttunen, who together with his co-driver Antti Linnaketo achieved the most special stage best times (5). Teammate Ingram and his new co-driver Ross Whittock had slight adaptation problems. “It was a difficult rally. All in all, third place is okay. And the championship is still wide open,” said Ingram.
Pole Aleks Zawada, who came to Italy leading the ERC Junior U27 rankings after his victory in the Czech Republic, already had to retire his customer ADAM R2 in the second special stage on Saturday morning with a powertrain problem and departed Rome without any points.
So rally fans can look forward to an extremely exciting four-way battle for the European Champion title at the FIA ERC Junior 2017 season finale from October 6 to 8 in Latvia. Ingram currently leads the rankings with 122 points just ahead of Mares (121) and Huttunen (106). But only four of the six individual results are counted in the final standings, which means that four drivers (Ingram, Huttunen, Mares and Zawada) now have a shot at the title but only the two Opel works drivers Ingram and Huttunen can capture it of their own accord with a victory.
Finishing sixth in the FIA ERC Junior U27, Italian Opel works driver Tamara Molinaro (19, from Moltrasio) captured the ERC Ladies’ Trophy ahead of time with her experienced co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini at her side – in spite of feeling unwell. “I feel totally groggy, I had to throw up several times. Especially the 32-kilometer stages were tough. I’m happy to have crossed the finish line and to have already won the ladies’ ratings. Thanks to the Opel Rallye Junior Team, who gave me a perfectly prepared rally car at every event,” said the young Italian.
Further information about official fuel consumption, official specific CO2 emissions and consumption of electric energy can be found in the “guideline about fuel consumption, CO2 Emissions and electric energy consumption of new passenger cars” ('Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO2-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch neuer Personenkraftwagen') in German language, which is available free of charge at any point of sales and at DAT Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH, Helmuth-Hirth-Straße 1, D-73760 Ostfildern.
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