PWRC wrap: Flodin clinches first 2011 win
A thrilling victory on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana
Patrik Flodin moved into second place in the Production Car World Rally Championship with a thrilling victory on RallyRACC-Rally de Espana, defeating Michal Kosciuszko in a close final-stage showdown.
Flodin, from Sweden, feared his chances of winning the category were over when his Subaru Impreza suffered a front puncture one kilometre from the finish of the penultimate stage, which he completed with an advantage of 2.3s over Kosciuszko.
Despite the Pole going faster than him on the event-closing Power Stage in his Mitsubishi Lancer, Flodin did just enough to secure victory, albeit by a slender margin of 2.0s.
“We were really struggling yesterday with the driving on Tarmac,” said Flodin. “Last night we reset everything and tried to do our best today and the driving was working better. We tried to go a bit smoother, braking earlier and really focus on the exit of the corner. I saw in the fast sections we were faster than him and we could see that on the split times. Without the puncture it could have been quite safe. We did just enough.”
Flodin’s co-driver Goran Bergsten revealed it had been an anxious wait at the end of the final stage while they waited for Kosciuszko and Maciej Szczepaniak to reach the finish of the rain-hit stage.
“We didn’t know if he had the soft tyres,” said Bergsten. “It was really slippery and we were sliding a lot. We just had to do our best.”
Behind Kosciuszko, Mexico Benito Guerra celebrated his maiden podium finish in the PWRC in third position with Abu Dhabi Junior Team driver Bader Al Jabri a hugely impressive fourth in his Impreza.
Oleksandr Saliuk overcame engine problems on his Lancer to finish fifth with Peruvian champion Nicolas Fuchs sixth, despite a late co-driver switch hampering his pre-event preparations. With regular navigator Ruben Garcia stuck in Argentina due to flight disruptions caused by a volcanic eruption in neighbouring Chile, Fuchs called up WRC Academy co-driver Candido Carrera as a late replacement. Fortunately the new partnership proved to be extremely effective.
Behind Valeriy Gorban, PWRC champion Hayden Paddon fought back up to eighth place following his exit with an electrical glitch prior to Friday morning’s opening run by winning nine out of the 12 stages he contested in his Impreza. Aleskey Kikireshko and Martin Semerad rounded out the top 10.
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