The Spanish round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship saw the Peugeot Rally Academy’s Jose Antonio Suarez provide a further demonstration of his speed with some first class times on home turf, including a WRC2 stage victory. His week began badly, however, when he left the road on one of Friday’s dirt tests, forcing the team to make repairs to his 208T16 which stood up well to the impact.
An error on gravel
The second-best effort on Thursday’s shakedown behind WRC2 benchmark Jan Kopecky proved that Jose Antonio ‘Cohete’ Suarez meant business in Catalonia at the wheel of the Peugeot Rally Academy’s 208T16. The next day, the Spaniard made a cautious start with a fifth-quickest time on Leg 1’s opening gravel stage, but he then significantly damaged his 208T16 in an off on the following test. Formidable work by the Peugeot Rally Academy’s mechanics successfully got the 208T16 running again, however. Their mission also involved converting the car to asphalt trim in order for Jose Suarez and his co-driver Candido Carrera to be able to re-join the event on Saturday under the Rally2 ruling.
Encouraging times on asphalt!
While the scrap for WRC2 victory between Skoda Fabia R5 team-mates Kopecky and Tidemand was at its fiercest, Cohete went on to post no fewer than eight top-three times. He even topped the class’s timesheet on SS13. After the rally, Suarez was in a positive frame of mind and already looking ahead to the next outing on his programme, Wales Rally GB:
“Despite our early mistake, there are several positives we can take away from Spain. We showed good pace on asphalt and we gave it everything we had over the two full days of competition we completed. That allowed us to gain more experience and it’s important to underline how competitive the 208T16 was against some pretty sharp competition. I would obviously like to thank everyone in the team for the exceptional job they performed in making the 208T16 as good as new after my accident and I hope I can pay them back with a top result in Wales.”
Meanwhile, the WRC3 class was won by Fabio Andolfi whose 208R2 took the category’s spoils against a raft of more powerful cars.
The next WRC appearance for the Peugeot Rally Academy is Wales Rally GB (October 27-30) where Jose Antonio Suarez and Candido Carrera will be back out in their Peugeot 208 T16.