FIA European Rally Championship 2021, Round 5 – Azores Rallye – Leg 1 report
The 55th Azores Rallye is set for a thrilling deciding day with 4.5s covering the top three drivers following six spectacular stages filled with high drama FIA European Rally Championship style.
Dani Sordo, driving for Team MRF Tyres in a Hyundai i20 R5 alongside co-driver Cándido Carrera, leads ERC points leader Andreas Mikkelsen (Toksport WRT Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo) by 4.0s with home hero Ricardo Moura 0.5s behind in third after a dramatic climax to Friday’s frenetic action.
Azores rookie Sordo started Tronqueira, the penultimate test of day one, 29.1s behind Moura, the 10-time local champion. But his stage-winning performance on SS5 cut Moura’s advantage to 6.4s heading to the day-closing Grupo Marques superspecial.
While Sordo made it through the two-by-two, 4.10-kilometre test trouble-free, Moura found his lane obscured by hanging dust. “We lost a lot,” said a frustrated Moura. “Because of the dust there were places we had to stop because we couldn’t see anything. it’s a shame.”
But there were no such problems for World Rally Championship star Sordo, who starts Saturday’s six-stage route with a slender advantage.
“I am quite happy,” Sordo said. “The tyres are working well but we don’t know the compounds very well so I need to take more experience. It was a really difficult day but I enjoy and, at the moment, all is good.”
Efrén Llarena is the top ERC-MICHELIN Talent Factory member in fourth followed by fellow young guns Erik Cais and Miko Marczyk with Alexey Lukyanuk seventh after a tough day in São Miguel for the ERC champion.
Javier Pardo heads ERC2 with Jean-Baptiste Franceschini taking advantage of a crash for Pep Bassas to lead ERC3.
Source : Fia