- Opel works driver Emil Bergkvist solidifies his FIA ERC Junior lead in the Azores
- Defect at end of race robs Marijan Griebel of deserved result for top performance
- ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team confident for next FIA ERC Junior rounds
|Lead defended: Opel factory driver Emil Bergkvist finished fourth in his ADAM R2 on the Azores and defended his overall FIA ERC Junior lead.|
Motorsport can be ruthless. This proved all too true for the ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team drivers on the last day of the SATA Rallye Acores. First, Emil Bergkvist (20, from Torsåker) and co-driver Joakim Sjöberg (29, from Ösmo) ran into trouble. At the third-to-last stage of the third round of the FIA ERC Junior, the Swedes were in an excellent second place when suddenly their Opel ADAM R2 was left with only the first and second gears. This was the end of all podium-finish dreams for the two-time season winners and ERC leaders, and their new goal was now to limit the extent of the damage.
And Bergkvist/Sjöberg achieved this goal, bringing the Opel ADAM R2 through the last two stages and across the finish line in Ponta Delgada in spite of a flat tire during the last kilometers. This landed the two Scandinavians in fourth place, consolidating their overall lead at the mid-way point of the FIA ERC Junior 2015 season. Heading to the next round in three weeks in Ypern, Belgium, their lead over the Azores winner Chris Ingram is now 24 points. And as only the best four of the six FIA ERC Junior rounds results count while the two weakest are discounted, the current rankings are only of temporary significance.
“I have mixed feelings about the rallye,” said Bergkvist. “Even under these difficult conditions, we were again very fast with our Opel ADAM R2. Of course we would have liked to take second place, but that wasn’t meant to be. That is motorsport. But at least we made it over the finish line and scored valuable points with fourth place. We are still leading the FIA ERC Junior with a solid advantage over our closest competitor. Now we will focus on what’s ahead and will again go into the next FIA ERC Junior races in full attack mode.“
Teammates Marijan Griebel (26, from Hahnweiler) and his co-driver Stefan Clemens (28, from Weiskirchen) had even worse luck. Following a great performance that put them in fourth place going into the final stage of the challenging gravel rallye on the Portuguese archipelago in the mid-Atlantic, they had to deal with a defect on their Opel ADAM R2. Because they were able to cross the finish line but not get back to the parc fermé in Ponta Delgada on their own, Griebel and Clemens were excluded from classification. A highlight and small consolation was their impressive best time in the over 20-kilometer long stage 13.
|Thwarted: Marijan Griebel and his co-pilot Stefan Clemens put on a strong display but a defect prevented them from reaping the rewards.|
Griebel also had very mixed feelings about the rallye: “Yesterday everything went really well and in today’s rankings we even reached second - with one of the few cars that didn’t have any visible exterior damage. We had a lot of fun, we were full of confidence, up until then the Opel ADAM R2 was fantastic. Everything would have been perfect. And then two kilometers before the finish line of the final stage, we lost power. We knew right away that we wouldn’t be able to make the 60 kilometers back to Ponta Delgada. So now we have to shake it off and keep fighting. We have a fast car that can compete on all surfaces and we have good drivers. This is what we want to prove again in Ypern.”
The ADAC Opel Rallye Junior Team drivers don’t have a lot of time to relax. This Saturday (June 13), Griebel/Clemens and Bergkvist/Sjöberg are racing in the Rallye Wervik in Belgium with their Opel ADAM R2s. They are using this test run to prepare for the fourth round of the FIA ERC Junior, the Kenotek Ypres Rallye from June 25 - 27. The event around Ypern in West Flanders takes place on asphalt.