Portuguese drivers Pedro Almeida and Pedro Antunes will compete in the opening round of the 2020 FIA European Rally Championship in a pair of Peugeot 208 Rally4’s with both aiming to finish strongly.
Despite both competing against each other in the ERC3 Junior class, the duo have very different reasons to be optimistic ahead of this weekend.
Almeida is no stranger to the ERC, having competed twice in R5 machinery on his native Azores event in both 2018 and ’19 and will have experienced co-driver Hugo Magalhães alongside him, while Antunes is set to build on his Junior ERC campaign from last season after finishing sixth.
Speaking ahead of this weekend, Almeida discussed how his co-driver has already helped him: “We (me and Hugo) started working in the beginning of this year and we were expecting to do a lot of rallies but with COVID-19 we could not do as much as we thought.”
“But even during quarantine we have managed to prepare together. Hugo is helping me a lot, especially in the pacenotes because that’s really a big part of the job as a driver.”
“The difference between me and the guys in the first places was 1.2 seconds per kilometre (in the R5’s), so I wasn’t evolving as I thought I would. I thought about it and decided to go back to an Rally4 to learn and have more pace and maybe one day go back to the R5.”
While Antunes, who steps up from a R2-spec 208 ahead of the 2020 season, added on his new Rally4 machine: “(The new car) is a lot different than the R2. The most significant is the engine, which is much more powerful by 20hp”.
“But it’s the power you have in the lower rotation that’s the big difference, you can use it in another way. In the old car it was only in the high rotation. In the tight corners the engine will make a big difference. The tyres are also bigger and this brings more security so, for me, it is easier to drive.”
The opening round of the 2020 FIA European Rally Championship, Rally di Roma Capitale, takes place this weekend. Keep following The Checkered Flag to find out the latest from each day of the event.