Martin McCormack wins EHRC Historic Rally of Asturias by 1.6 seconds

Martin McCormack wins EHRC Historic Rally of Asturias by 1.6 seconds

Martin McCormack made it three different winners from the opening three rounds of the 2024 FIA European Historic Rally Championship after he topped a thrilling battle for victory on the rain-hit stages of Historic Rally of Asturias yesterday (Saturday).

 

Driving a BMW M3 for the Flexifly Rally Team alongside co-driver Barney Mitchell, McCormack edged out “Zippo” and Nicola Arena by a mere 1.6s to underline the exciting and highly competitive nature of the FIA EHRC.

 

Despite the challenging weather conditions, McCormack and “Zippo” never relented and started the deciding stage split by 1.2s. With just seconds separating the leading duo throughout the Pravia-based Tarmac event, McCormack’s narrow winning margin was proof that it’s the drivers as well as the cars who are the stars in the FIA EHRC.

 

“Zippo” began leg two leading by 12.0s following a dry first leg on Friday only for McCormack to slash that advantage to 1.1s by taking back-to-back stage wins on SS5 and SS6. But “Zippo” responded with the fastest time on SS7 to complete the morning loop leading by 2.0s.

 

With SS8 cancelled, just two stages remained in the victory battle. McCormack was quickest on the rerun of the 14.52-kilometre Pravia test to take the lead by 1.2s and set up a thrilling finale on the 12.34-kilometre Salas stage.

 

“Zippo” appeared to be in the ascendency when he reached a timing split 2.5s ahead of his Northern Irish rival. However, McCormack was able to claw back the time he lost on the downhill section of the Salas run to take the stage win by 0.4s for his first FIA EHRC victory of the season by a slender 1.6s. McCormack also won Category 4 with “Zippo” winning Category 3.

 

Jesus Ferreiro stared leg two in a seemingly comfortable third position but dropped crucial seconds when the bonnet of his Ford Escort RS1800 opened during SS10. The Spanish driver’s misfortune let in Vojtěch Štajf (Toyota Celica GT-Four (ST165) for the final place on the podium as Ferreiro settled for fourth ahead of Tibor Érdi Jr, whose Ford Sierra RS Cosworth 4x4 was slowed by a powersteering issue on leg one.

 

Angelo Lombardo completed the top six and won Category 2 in his Porsche 911 Carrera RS 3.0 followed by Christophe Jacob (Ford Escort RS1800), Ernie Graham (BMW M3), Greg McCormack (Ford Escort RS1800) and Guy Trolliet (Porsche 911 SC).

 

Having been hampered by mechanical issues on recent FIA EHRC outings, Péter Magoss brought his Subaru Legacy Turbo 4WD to the finish in 11th. Pascal Eouzan (BMW M3) and Jean-Marc Bussolini (Porsche 911 Carrera RS 3.0) were next to finish with James Potter taking the Category 1 and FIA EHRC 1600cc Trophy laurels in 14th overall.

 

László Mekler was on course to land 1600cc honours but went off the road in his Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA on the final stage and dropped to 15th, one place ahead of Antonio Sainz, who was delayed by a puncture on SS1 and an off on SS2.

 

Piotr Gadomski (Toyota Corolla AE82) won the FIA EHRC Front Wheel Drive division after Jan Bevjl, a pre-rally favourite for category honours, was a non-starter after he suffered a broken ankle in a work incident during the build-up to the event.

 

Donagh Kelly was in fourth when he went off the road on SS9. Valter Pierangioli dropped out on Saturday morning after his Ford Sierra RS Cosworth 4x4 suffered a mechanical failure. Jesús Diez Villarroel also failed to go the distance due to his Ford Escort Twin Cam losing a wheel.

 

All FIA EHRC crews starting the third round of the season picked up 10 bonus points, rather than the usual two, under new rules for 2024.

 

Mecsek Rallye Hungary is up next for the FIA EHRC contenders with the asphalt event, round four of the season, taking place from June 13-15.


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