Araújo closes on second, Solans still leads Fafe after scare

Solans looked after his overnight lead until the final stage of Sunday morning, while Araújo hunts down Linnamäe


Nil Solans remains out in front of Rally Serras de Fafe with four stages remaining, as Georg Linnamäe and Armindo Araújo traded times in the battle for second place.

The European Rally Championship season opener began amid horrendous weather conditions on Saturday, which highly experienced Portuguese driver Bruno Magalhães surmised as “the worst conditions I’ve ever seen in my life”.

Taking advantage of being first on the road on Saturday, Solans had already built a massive lead out front. He mostly conserved that on the much drier stages of Sunday morning.

There appeared to be drama though on Lameirinha, which will be used as the powerstage on its second pass, as the whole front end of Solans’ Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 was ripped off. The damage was merely cosmetic however, and he completed the stage without issue.

“I don’t know,” said Solans when asked how he’d damaged his car.


“I was too tight in some places. I don’t know. Maybe I touched some gravel. Sometimes there’s some cuts with a lot of gravel, maybe the cut moved something. But no drama.”

With no pressure from behind, Solans allowed Georg Linnamäe to eat into his lead, his gap decreasing by 12.5s to leave him with a 1m31.9s margin going into the final loop.

Linnamäe is in a fight with two-time Production World Rally champion Araújo for the second podium spot and had initially increased his lead over the first two Sunday stages.

A wayward run by Linnamäe on Santa Quitéria, where he ran wide several times and came inches from clattering into a tree, allowed Araújo to recoup his earlier losses.

Araújo was then able to close in further when Linnamäe’s rear-right tire came off the rim during the final couple of miles of Lameirinha, the gap closing down to 10s exactly with four stages remaining.


Javier Pardo and Simone Tempestini are locked in a tight battle for fourth place, with Tempestini edging closer still to his fellow Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo driver.

A spin for Pardo on Seixoso allowed Tempestini to close right up behind but Pardo responded on Santa Quitéria, setting the exact same time as the six-time Romanian national champion.

Despite an intercom issue on Lameirinha that left him unable to hear co-driver Adrián Pérez at times, Pardo was still able to limit his losses to 1.1s, settling the gap to Tempestini to 2.7s heading to midday service.

Behind Albert Battistolli and Team MRF’s Norbert Herczig in sixth and seventh, Magalhães was automatically promoted to eighth place as Miguel Correia elected to withdraw after the first day.

The Portuguese national championship only uses leg one of the rally, and with second place banked on Saturday in his national series it meant Correia’s primary aim was already complete.


Mārtiņš Sesks leads the ERC Open category in a Fabia Rally2 Kit car and is battling to keep José Pedro Fontes at bay for ninth overall, with only 8.3s separating the pair.

Efrén Llarena had a nightmare first leg in Fafe, running well down the road order and losing several minutes with a punctured radiator.

But Sunday has allowed last year’s title runner-up to show his real speed, winning three of the four Sunday morning stages while running as the first car on the road.

His primary goal will be to score maximum powerstage points on the second pass of Lameirinha this afternoon, though he also has WRC2 Junior championship leader Erik Cais to contend with.

Cais retired with a double puncture on Saturday morning but is back under superrally rules. Ken Torn also returned after his stage two departure with an overheating engine, only to retire again with a similar issue on Sunday morning.

SS13 times

1 Efren Llarena/Sara Fernandez (Škoda) 9m54.5s
2 Armindo Araújo/Luis Ramalho (Škoda) +2.9s
3 Simone Tempestini/Sergiu Itu (Škoda) +4.3s
4 Javier Pardo/Adrián Pérez (Škoda) +5.4s
5 Miklós Csomós/Attila Nagy (Škoda) +5.5s
6 Erik Cais/Petr Tesínský (Ford) +7.1s
7 Georg Linnamäe/James Morgan (Volkswagen) +9.8s
8 Bruno Magalhaes/Carlos Magalhaes (Hyundai) +10.5s
9 Nil Solans/Marc Marti (Volkswagen) +10.8s
10 Ricardo Teodosio/José Teixeira (Hyundai) +10.8s

Leading positions after SS13

1 Solans/Marti (Volkswagen) 1h29m42.1s
2 Linnamäe/Morgan (Volkswagen) +1m31.9s
3 Araújo/Ramalho (Škoda) +1m41.9s
4 Pardo/Pérez (Škoda) +3m06.2s
5 Tempestini/Itu (Škoda) +3m08.9s
6 Alberto Battistolli/Simone Scattolin (Škoda) + 4m05.2s
7 Norbert Herczig/Igor Bacigál (Škoda) +5m12.9s
8 Magalhaes/Magalhaes (Hyundai) +6m39.0s
9 Mārtiņš Sesks/Renars Francis (Škoda) +8m54.6s
10 José Pedro Fontes/Inês Ponte (Citroën) +9m02.9s