Incident packed weekend ends in rare retirement for Elfyn
The rally began with a ceremonial start in Barcelona, followed by a loop of three stages run in the dark. A misfire on the opening stage cost Elfyn and Dan precious seconds, although they were guided over the radio by the Qatar M-Sport team to trace and then fix the problem. The misfire solved, the pair were then able to end the first leg in second place in WRC2.
The second leg’s six stages were all run in daylight, including a 2.24km spectator stage around the seafront of the rally’s base, Salou. A string of consistent times on the first five stages meant Elfyn and Dan were in a comfortable second place behind ex-Formula One star Robert Kubica in WRC2 as they began the Salou stage. Unfortunately, Elfyn misjudged one of the final corners of the stage and made contact with a concrete post, damaging the front left-hand wheel so badly that the car was unable to complete the test. Following repairs, Elfyn was able to re-start under the Rally2 regulations, albeit with a ten-minute penalty for failing to complete SS9.
The final day saw a switch of road surface and so the Ford Fiesta R5 was converted from asphalt to gravel specification. SS10 – the day’s first – saw Elfyn and Dan storm though to set the second fastest time in WRC2. Any hopes of salvaging a good finish, however, evaporated on the road section following the stage when the car ground to a halt with clutch failure, possibly caused by the incident the previous evening.
Obviously this wasn’t the way I wanted to finish the rally and it would have been nice to get the experience of today’s stages, but we can take a lot of positives away from the tarmac stages. I wasn’t on Robert (Kubica’s) pace, but I still think the pace was reasonable to say the least.
We’re really looking forward to our final event of the year, the Wales Rally GB in three weeks. It’s the home event for both Dan and me and the route looks like it’ll be a great rally with some really good stages. I’m hoping there’ll be lots of support for us as well, so it should be a fantastic way to end the season.