QUENTIN GILBERT’S EXPERIENCE SHOWS
Winner of the opening round in Monaco, Frenchman Quentin Gilbert added a second FIA Junior WRC win at Ra lly de Portugal. In only the second competitive rally of his fledgling career, Pierre-Louis Loubet claimed a brilliant runner-up spot, ahead of the Finn Henri Haapamaki.
Fifteen crews lined up at the start of the second round of the 2015 FIA Junior WRC. This year’s new-look Rally de Portugal provided the under-28 year-old drivers with an opportunity to rack up the miles on its very demanding stages.
After Thursday evening’s super-special stage was won by Osian Pryce, Friday’s itinerary took the crews from Porto towards the Spanish border to the north. Initially, Simone Tempestini coped best with the extremely rough roads to grab the lead.
He went quickest on the morning loop of stages and headed for the midday service with a lead of around twenty seconds over Osian Pryce. Daniel McKenna, Terry Folb, Ole Christian Veiby, Quentin Gilbert, Henri Haapamaki, Pierre-Louis Loubet and Jean-René Perry were already over a minute off the pace.
Conditions worsened for the second loop. Making the most of his experience to look after his DS 3 R3-MAX whilst remaining fast, Quentin Gilbert claimed two consecutive stage wins to go from sixth to first, ahead of Terry Folb and Ole Christian Veiby. Simone Tempestini (ripped off wheel), Osian Pryce (alternator) and Daniel McKenna (off) were all caught out by the incredible difficulties of the road surface.
When Terry Folb went off at the start of the long second day on SS8, Quentin Gilbert had a little breathing space at the front. The FIA Junior WRC leader added another two stage wins during the morning loop before letting Simone Tempestini, who had rejoined under Rally 2 rules, come to the fore. Having moved up into second place, Ole Christian Veiby then rolled on the final stage of the day and had to retire from the leg.
On Sunday morning, Quentin Gilbert held a lead of over two minutes on Pierre-Louis Loubet. Henri Haapamaki was almost five minutes back, ahead of Jean-René Perry. Having all rejoined under Rally 2 rules, Ole Christian Veiby, Simone Tempestini and Daniel McKenna completed the top half of the standings.
Osian Pryce was the quickest on the final two stages of the rally. In the top 10, the only driver to make a move was Federico Della Casa, who managed to get ahead of Daniel McKenna to grab seventh place in the category standings. Osian Pryce and Kornel Lukacs also finished in the points. Charlotte Dalmasso and Terry Folb made it to the end, but finished outside the top 10.
After this second event of the season, Quentin Gilbert has 50 points. He leads Ole Christian Veiby by 25 points and Simone Tempestini by 30 points. In the Nations Trophy, France leads the standings, ahead of Norway and Italy.
Next up for the FIA Junior WRC drivers and teams is Rally Poland on 2-5 July.
Quentin Gilbert: “It was a long and difficult rally. We took it fairly steadily at the start of the race to get our bearings. After the first loop, we had a better set-up and many other crews had problems. Once we were in front, we managed to hold position despite the difficulties of the road surface. With two wins from two outings, it’s been a perfect start to the season.”