OneBet Recap: Dayinsure Wales Rally GB, WRC2
Pontus Tidemand-Jonas Andersson and Skoda Motorsport won the penultimate round of the series, finishing a successful year in style.
Pontus Tidemand and Jonas Andersson claimed a convincing win, after leading the classification from the start until the end of the rally.
Dayinsure Wales Rally GB was held on October 26-29 and marked the penultimate round of both WRC and WRC 2 category. One of the legendary events of the calendar, taking place in iconic special stages at the Welsh forests, is one of the highlights in the season. This year’s edition was based around Deeside service park and consisted of 21 special stages and 304,36 competitive kilometers. Known for being one of the most challenging events of the season, as crews have to withstand tricky conditions with constant grip change in the special stages, Dayinsure Wales Rally GB was a really interesting round for WRC 2, the most popular WRC supporting category that mostly features young guns showing off their talent. Although speed is an important factor, consistency and tactics play a vital role in the effort to secure a good result in terms of WRC 2 and therefore, we had focused on the combination of speed and experience, when drawing our favorites in Onebet’s preview.
Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula have a troublesome event and didn’t manage to score points in an event they were expected to challenge for victory. Their tough luck consisted of puncture, a power steering failure and retirement due to electrical problem.
WRC 2 reigning champions, Pontus Tidemand-Jonas Andersson (Skoda Fabia R5) and Skoda Motorsport proved to be unbeatable in the Welsh forests, as they finished their successful year in style, after being fastest in 11 out of 21 stages, proved his domination during the season. Frenchmen Eric Camilli-Benjamin Veillas (Ford Fiesta R5) finished in second place, after battling locals Tom Cave-James Morgan (Ford Fiesta R5) who raised many eyebrows due to their performance in a DMACK tyres equipped car. Finns Teemu Suninen-Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta R5) who were among favorites to win, were challenging Tidemand-Andersson during first day until a puncture cost them a lot of time, before retiring during the second day due to an electrical problem.
Tom Cave, the 25 year-old Briton, claimed a podium finish alongside James Morgan in their home event, after getting the most out of their local knowledge and DMACK tyres.
As expected, Dayinsure Wales Rally GB was once again a challenger, with WRC 2 competitors facing a typically Welsh, foggy and muddy event that concluded the season the most competitive way.
How the action unfolded…
The event kicked off during Thursday, October 26th, with a short spectator stage in Conwy. Swedes Pontus Tidemand-Jonas Andersson showed their intentions from the word “go”, as they went fastest, in front of Eyvind Brynildsen – Anders Fredriksson and Ole Christian Veiby – Stig Rune Skjærmoen.
Eric Camilli and Benjamin Veillas struggled with the setup of their car but finally finished in second place.
The main event began on Friday, October 27th, which was composed from 6 special stages, that provided constant grip changes from dry gravel to mud, making the task of competitors even harder. The current WRC 2 champions, Pontus Tidemand-Jonas Andersson in their factory Skoda Fabia R5 finished the day leading with 43,1 seconds, after claiming 4 out of 6, fastest stage times. Eric Camilli-Benjamin Veillas finished in second placed behind the wheel of their M-Sport prepared Ford Fiesta R5, struggling with the setup of their car. Among frontrunners, Teemu Suninen-Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta R5) who claimed the fastest time once and were the main rivals for Tidemand and Camilli for victory, lost precious time due to puncture. Meanwhile, Norwegians Ole Christian Veiby-Stig Rune Skjærmoen rolled out of the day after having set one fastest time, at their first WRC outing as official Skoda Motorsport crew. The Top-3 for the day was rounded by top locals, Tom Cave-James Morgan (Ford Fiesta R5), who benefited both from local knowledge as well as their DMACK tyres. Teen sensation Kalle Rovanpera, who began his WRC quest at Wales, co driven by Jonne Halttunen in a Ford Fiesta R5 retired with broken radiator, after having suffered a puncture as well. Also, Emil Bergkvist-Ola Floene (Citroen DS3 R5) retired from the day for mechanical reason after having suffered 2 punctures, while Simone Tempestini-Giovanni Bernacchini (Citroen DS3 R5) also retired due to fuel pump failure. Turks Orhan Avcioglu-Burcin Korkmaz (Skoda Fabia R5), winners of Marmaris Rally 2017 that will be a WRC round at 2018 went off road, whilst Chileans Pedro Heller-Pablo Olmos (Ford Fiesta R5) retired from day one as they had double puncture whilst carrying just one spare.
Marathon 17-hour Saturday
After a demanding first day, crews embarked on the longest day of the rally that consisted of day and night action over 9 special stages in the mid-Wales forests. The domination of Tidemand-Andersson continued, as the Swedes faced no problems and went fastest in 6 stages, strengthening their lead to 1:43 minutes. Behind them, fierce battle was being held for second place, as Tom Cave-James Morgan who claimed one fastest time, became their closest rivals, with a gap of just 7,1 seconds from Eric Camilli-Benjamin Veillas who were third, after being fastest in one stage as well. Brits David Bogie-Kevin Rae (Skoda Fabia R5) finished the day in fourth place, 2,5 seconds in front of Scandinavians Eyvind Brynildsen-Anders Fredriksson (Ford Fiesta R5), while Top-6 was rounded by the third crew of Skoda Motorsport, Finns Juuso Nordgren-Tapio Suominen (Skoda Fabia R5). The bad luck of Veiby-Skjærmoen continued as they had a puncture, while Suninen-Markkula -who set one fastest time-, first suffered a broken steering, before retiring provisionally on the liaison to SS15 with an intermittent electrical issue. Also, Matthew Wilson-Stuart Loudon (Ford Fiesta R5) were forced to retire from the day on the liaison to SS14, after suffering two punctures whilst only carrying one spare tyre. Finally, Britons Rhys Yates-Alex Lee (Ford Fiesta R5) were unlucky, as they first lost approximately 26 minutes to change the alternator belt in stage, before suffering brake problems.
The event concluded with 5 special stages, that crowned the winners for overall and WRC 2 classification. With Pontus Tidemand-Jonas Andersson (Skoda Fabia R5) having a steady lead and cruising to victory, the most interesting battle was that for second place. Eric Camilli-Benjamin Veillas (Ford Fiesta R5) picked their pace up and put pressure to Tom Cave-James Morgan (Ford Fiesta R5), with the young Briton having a spin in SS19 that cost him precious seconds. After that, the French duo kept second position until the end, with the Brits claiming a honorary podium finish in their highly competitive, home event. David Bogie-Kevin Rae (Skoda Fabia R5), who set a fastest time in the last day, grabbed a comfortable fourth place as their main rivals, Eyvind Brynildsen-Anders Fredriksson (Ford Fiesta R5) retired on the liaison to SS19 with engine problems. The Finns of Skoda Motorsport, Juuso Nordgren-Tapio Suominen (Skoda Fabia R5) finished in fifth place, after setting even Top-3 stage times, with locals Gus Greensmith-Craig Parry (Ford Fiesta R5), who were hampered by pop-off valve problems during the opening day, finishing in sixth place. Top-10 was completed by local BRC regulars Matt Edwards-Patrick Walsh (Ford Fiesta R5) who set one fastest time as well, Frenchmen Pierre Louis Loubet-Vincent Landais (Ford Fiesta R5), Poles Lukasz Pieniazek-Przemyszlaw Mazur (Skoda Fabia R5)-at their first event in new car- and Italians Fabio Andolfi-Simone Scattolin (Hyundai i20 R5).
Except from Tidemand-Andersson, Skoda Motorsport had two more crews competing in Wales. Norwegians OC Veiby- SR Skjærmoen set 3 fastest times but finished outside the Top-10 at their WRC debut as official Skoda Motorsport crew after retiring out of Day 1, while Finns Juuso Nordgren-Tapio Suominen clinched fifth place in the overall classification.
Dayinsure Wales Rally GB proved its fame as a very difficult, versatile but also very spectacular event. As many as 7 different crews claimed stage wins and although Pontus Tidemand-Jonas Andersson weren’t really threatened in battle for victory, especially after Teemu Suninen-Mikko Markkula faced problems, competitors were both fast and spectacular, showing the importance of this category, widely considered as the precursor to WRC category. Not by chance, WRC 2 has been previously won by drivers like Esapekka Lappi or Craig Breen, who are already WRC factory drivers, while current event’s winner Elfyn Evans, as well as Andreas Mikkelsen, also competed in WRC 2 during 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Dayinsure Wales Rally GB – WRC 2
WRC 2 competitors: 22
Special Stages: 21
Total SS length: 304,36 km
Stage wins: Tidemand 11, Suninen-Veiby 3, Bogie-Camilli-Cave-Edwards 1
WRC 2 Classification leader: SS 1-21 Tidemand