Nicolas Ciamin leads the Junior WRC category at Rally Deutschland after the first full day of competition, with his primary opposition Nil Solans crashing out.
The duo had spent the morning loop jockeying for the lead, but a slow run through the afternoon re-run of Mittelmosel for Solans was followed up by a mistake in Grafschaft.
The Spaniard ran wide while cutting a muddy right corner, sliding into a wall and wrecking the front-left of his Fiesta R2T. The accident occurred in exactly the same spot which caused Esapekka Lappi‘s retirement in the top WRC category only minutes earlier.
Ciamin was not immune to mistakes either, having a moment of his own during the same stage which had claimed Solans as a victim.
“For me, everything was OK,” said Ciamin at the stage finish. “We went into some vineyards on the very slippery corner, but we are OK.”
Behind Ciamin was compatriot Terry Folb. The Frenchman has only a single podium to his name this season, and retired early from the previous round in Finland due to an engine failure.
Folb now holds a large advantage over Julius Tannert in the final podium position, over a minute ahead of Tannert and only 22.8 seconds behind Ciamin.
“The rally is very hard with this weather,” he said at the end of the second running of Grafschaft. “The battle is very big with Nicolas. It’s a pity for Nil, because he made a mistake in this stage. It’s a very difficult event and with this weather and this condition. But we are happy.”
“The junior championship is very good, and this rally is a big challenge. All the rallies this season are a big challenge, but we are happy with our time and we will see what happens for the rest of the rally. We have a very good feeling with the car.”
The stage became blocked by Solans’ accident, causing Tannert to set a very slow time and drop several extra minutes behind the French duo which already held an advantage of over a minute.
“We had a yellow flag,” said Tannert. “Our competitor Nil Solans crashed in the stage, so we got the signal of the yellow flag and had to slow down and end the stage in road mode.”
His time was adjusted upwards to within nine seconds of Ciamin, meaning he now almost a minute and a half behind the category leader with two days of stages remaining.
Solans is expected to return under Rally2 regulations tomorrow, but will start the day over fourteen minutes off the pace thanks to time penalties for crashing midway through Grafschaft, and missing the final superspecial as a result.
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*Including Rally2 time penalty