WRC2 championship leader handed one-minute Portugal penalty

Yohan Rossel has been penalized as a consequence of rushing to depart from a mid-stage tire change

Yohan Rossel

Yohan Rossel has been given a one-minute penalty on Rally Portugal for a safety violation, as he drove off from a tire change before co-driver Arnaud Dunard had fastened his seatbelts properly.

After striking a rock on the Saturday morning pass of Paredes, Rossel pulled over to change a wheel on his Citroën C3 Rally2, as the impact had caused a puncture.

But in his hurry to get going again Rossel initially drove off before Dunard had finished fastening his belts, a violation of Article 52.1 of the WRC Sporting Regulations.

Dunard had explained to stewards that he had shouted at Rossel to wait before moving off – but unfortunately in Rossel’s haste to get going, the intercom cables in the car had not yet been connected, so Dunard’s request was not heard by his driver.

DG Sport Automotive representative Coralie Barbassat added that given the high speed section Rossel had stopped in, he was concerned that the next car into the stage would be rapidly approaching at that time – time gaps are two minutes long and the average tire change takes around the same time.

In addition to the early moving violation, stewards also noted that Rossel had not correctly positioned his HANS device underneath his belts either.

Rossel’s one minute penalty all but ends his hopes of mounting a miraculous comeback for victory. He had been only 11.6s behind effective WRC2 lead Jan Solans in the battle for 25 points, as his Citroën team-mate Nikolay Gryazin is not registered for drivers’ points in Portugal.

However, the penalty doesn’t change Rossel’s position – he remains in third place, now 8.9s ahead of Lauri Joona.