With one round of the competition still to come, Laurent PELLIER has wrapped up this year’s 208 Rally Cup crown thanks to his third place on the particularly entertaining Rallye Terre des Cardabelles in France! He will now move on to join the Peugeot Rally Academy which saw Jose Antonio SUAREZ secure a top-three placing in the U28 class of the 2017 FIA European Rally Championship at the weekend’s Rally Liepaja in Latvia.
• The Rallye Terre des Cardabelles, round six and last gravel fixture of the seven-round 2017 208 Rally Cup, was marked by the performances of two PEUGEOT 208 Rally Cup drivers. An aggressive< run took Taisko LARIO to the top of the provisional order after Saturday’s action in southwest France, but the weekend’s spoils ended up in the hands of Karl PINHEIRO who celebrated his first victory of the season.
Karl PINHEIRO : “I’m thrilled to have won at last! A big ‘thank you’ to everyone in the team who worked so efficiently on my PEUGEOT this weekend, as well as to my co-driver Franck LE FLOCH for doing such a perfect job. We didn’t have a single problem. I would also like to congratulate Taisko LARIO and Tatu RYYNÄNEN on their first class run. It wasn’t easy for them to bounce back after their ‘off’ last weekend, but they put in a top performance. Our battle with them was tremendous fun!”
• Another driver who was delighted with the weekend’s outcome was Laurent PELLIER. Clearly inspired on his return from the ERC’s third Junior Experience Eurosport course (a reward from Peugeot Sport for his strong results in this year’s 208 Rally Cup), he completed both days of the Rallye Terre des Cardabelles inside the top three. The retirement of his main title rival Efren LLARENA helped the 22-year old to sew up the 2017 208 Rally Cup with one round still to contest.
Laurent PELLIER : “It’s nice to finish on the podium of any rally but, at the same time, it was important to stay out of trouble on this event. I don’t think the fact that I have won the championship has sunk in just yet. There is still the Rallye du Var to come in November. Thank you to everyone at Easy Rally for all the work they have produced over the year. My codriver Benoit NEYRET-GIGOT did a first class job, as well, and I want to thank all those who have helped me. Hard work always ends up paying off!”
• In Latvia, meanwhile, the dreadful conditions and heavy rain didn’t prevent Spain’s José Antonio SUÀREZ and Candido CARRERA from producing a strong, smartly-paced yet risk-free performance in their PEUGEOT 208T16. Their reward was a number of overall top-three stage times and second place in the weekend’s Junior U28 classification. The result has promoted them to third in the final ERC Junior U28 standings which is a satisfactory conclusion to the Peugeot Rally Academy’s 2017 programme.
Jose Antonio SUÀREZ : “We are happy to have come second in the U28 fight here in Latvia. Our goal was to get our PEUGEOT to the finish and we did the job. Finishing on the podium of the ERC U28 season is great, too, but it’s a bit disappointing that we weren’t able to aim any higher. At least we had the chance to show our speed and fight with the top gunners. It’s been another good year with the Peugeot Rally Academy.”
• Compatriots Pepe LOPEZ and Bordja ROZADA had a less successful outing in Latvia where they were eliminated by an ‘off’ on Sunday morning. After their strong start to the season, the Spanish youngsters were understandably disappointed by the way their campaign ended, but they both feel they have gained valuable experience in the PEUGEOT 208T16 and from being part of a professional team.
Pepe LOPEZ : “This week-end proved once again how tricky rallies can be. You tackle lots of dangerous corners without a problem and then you’re caught out by a slow one. You need to be at 200 percent all the time. We hit a post on the inside of a corner, broke the steering and left the road. That tipped us into a ditch and we rolled several times. I feel very sorry for the team. They did such a great job. I would have preferred a better ending on this event.”
208 RALLY CUP - Rallye Terre des Cardabelles – FINAL POSITIONS
1. Karl PINHEIRO - Franck LE FLOCH (junior) 1h43m37s8
2. Taisko LARIO - Sami RYYNÄNEN (junior) + 1s5
3. Laurent PELLIER - Benoît NEYRET-GIGOT (junior) + 15s6
4. Aki SAHILA - Rami SUORSA (junior) + 2m30s4
5. Florentin BOSCH - Romain TEMPIER + 2m59s9
6. Brandon MAISANO - Pierre PEBEYRE + 3m16s3
7. Thomas BAUDOIN - Kévin MILLET (junior) + 3m33s9
8. Alexandre MOLLARD - Nicolas EYMIN + 6m14s9
PROVISIONNAL 2017 208 RALLY CUP STANDINGS – After 6 rounds of 7
1. Laurent PELLIER (junior) 103 points
2. Efren LLARENA (junior) 69 points
3. Karl PINHEIRO (junior) 47 points
4. Quentin RIBAUD 42 points
5. Aki SAHILA (junior) 38 points…
FIA ERC - Rally Liepaja – FINAL POSITIONS
1. Gryazin/Fedorov (Skoda) U28 1h19:22.1
2. Rovanperä/Halttunen (Ford) +18.5
3. Habaj/Dymurski (Ford) +02:52.8
4. Suárez/Carrera (Peugeot) U28 +3:00.9
5. Von Thurn/Degandt (Skoda) +5:32.3
... López/Rozada (Peugeot) Retired
FINAL FIA ERC STANDINGS - Junior U28
1. Marijan GRIEBEL 128 points
2. Nicolay GRYAZIN 112 points
3. Jose Antonio SUAREZ 94 points
4. Jan CERNY 79 points
5. Pepe LOPEZ 73 points…