SS3: Harrach fastest, Baumschlager closes up

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By Olivier Ferret

4 January 2013 - 10:55
SS3: Harrach fastest, Baumschlager (...)

The battle for victory on the International Jännerrallye has taken a dramatic twist with Raimund Baumschlager slashing Jan Kopecký’s overall lead to 2.3s heading to the mid-morning service in Freistadt.

Baumschlager, the reigning Austrian champion, started the third 8.68-kilometre St Oswald test trailing Czech title-holder Kopecký by 29.7s, but is now within touching distance of his fellow ŠKODA Fabia driver after three stages thanks largely to his decision to use narrow studded tyres on the ice-coated second and third tests.

At the completion of the fog-hit third run, Baumschlager told ERC Rally Radio’s Julian Porter: “We could be faster but it would take a lot of risk.”

Although Baumschlager’s performance was impressive, Beppo Harrach managed to go even faster to win the stage with an advantage of four seconds in his production-specification Mitsubishi Lancer. “Incredible,” said the Austrian. “We made one or two mistakes in the pacenotes and it was tough to stay on the road. But the time is good.”

Jan Černý also beat Baumschlager’s time and climbs to fifth overall on his switch to four-wheel-drive competition for 2013.

Elsewhere, Pavel Valoušek said he “went off on every corner” in his Peugeot 207, which was sporting a damaged windscreen at the stage finish. Václav Pech, who was second at the stage start, lost 10s going off in his MINI. He drops to third overall, albeit a mere 2.7s behind Kopecký. Harrach, meanwhile, climbs to fourth.

Stage four of the FIA European Rally Championship goes live at 12:06hrs local time.

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