It was the perfect start to the season for Quentin Gilbert in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship as the Frenchman took victory in the first round of the championship. Gilbert crossed the finish line with a 2 min 27 seconds advantage over the rest of the field.
The event started in the darkness on Thursday evening and first blood went to the reigning British Rally Champion Daniel McKenna. The Irishman went fastest on the opening test and took an early lead but received a 2 minute and 20 second penalty for arriving late at the Time Control for stage two dropping him down the order.
Gilbert took advantage of this. The Frenchman topped the timesheets on the second stage to end the day in the lead, ahead of his fellow countryman Terry Folb, the Italian Simone Tempestini, the Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby and the German Christian Riedemann. Yohan Rossel and Charlotte Dalmasso lost over five minutes.
Irishman McKenna started his fightback by taking his second stage win on the third test on Friday morning but it was the battle for the lead between Gilbert and Folb that was grabbing attention, the pair were embroiled in a very close scrap separated by just 0.4 of a second at one point.
The pressure on Gilbert all but disappeared when Folb was slowed by engine difficulties. Gilbert held a commanding lead of almost two minutes over Veiby the end of the second leg, with Folb, Riedemann, Tempestini and McKenna completing the top six. At the end of the day Folb and McKenna were forced to retire with mechanical issues.
Gilbert continued to dominate the event on day 3 as the Frenchman took two stage wins and finished the day with an advantage of almost four minutes over the second placed Ole Christian Veiby.
Gilbert’s lead wasn’t challenged over the final two legs and the Frenchman crossed the finish line with a gap of almost two and a half minutes over Germany’s Christian Riedemann.
“It’s great to start the season with a win.” said Quentin Gilbert at the finish. “The team did a fantastic job and the DS 3 R3-MAX worked like a treat. We managed the race very well, although the final leg was very tough, because we had to hold our position.”
The next round of the Junior World Rally Championship takes place on the Vodafone Rally de Portugal in May.
|Pos.||Driver / Co-Driver||Time / Gap|
|1||Quentin Gilbert / Renaud Jamoul||4:08:32.7|
|2||Christian Riedemann / Michael Wenzel||+2:23.7|
|3||Ole Christian Veiby / Anders Jaeger||+2:12.3|
|4||Simone Tempestini / Matteo Chiarcossi||+5:28.4|
|5||Yohan Rossel / Benoit Fulcrand||+11:27.7|
|6||Alessandro Re / Giacomo Ciucci||+12:04.5|
|7||Kornel Lukacs / Mark Mesterhazi||+20:02.4|
|8||Charlotte Dalmasso / Marine Delon||+39:10.4|