ERC Rnd 12 - Rallye International du Valais Nov7-9 talk/results spoiler **
Final Rnd 12 : Rallye International du Valais
Switzerland - Asphalt 07-09 Nov 2013
Taking place in the mountains of southwest Switzerland close to Lake Geneva, the 2013 ERC season-closer is based in Martigny and has been a regular on the European championship schedule for a number of years. First run in 1960 as a regularity event for competitors to discover the region’s wineries, the Rallye International du Valais tag was adopted in 1985 by which time the event had turned into major contest. Legends such as François Delecour, Juha Kankkunen and Jean Ragnotti have all sampled the challenging, narrow asphalt roads that characterise this event. Ice and snow can also be a factor.
Lappi not expecting Valais victory despite shakedown best
Esapekka Lappi admits winning Rallye International du Valais is not even a target, despite the Finn going fastest in shakedown for the final round of the 2013 FIA European Rally Championship this morning.
Lappi’s fastest run through the practice stage in Sion, which took place in ambient temperatures of seven degrees centigrade, was a 1m43.18s in the ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 he shares with co-driver and fellow Finn Janne Ferm.
“Winning is not the target,” said the highly-rated 22-year-old. “Okay, maybe we can win the race by just driving without problems and hoping other drivers have problems like in Sanremo, then we can win the race.”
Lappi, who scored a debut ERC victory in Poland last season, is making his third start in the 2013 European championship. He finished second in the previous round in Italy and arrives in Switzerland less than a week after winning China Rally Longyou, a round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.
After SS1: Peugeot Rally Academy aces share opening-stage laurels in Switzerland
There was some serious competition on the opening stage of Rallye International du Valais with Peugeot Rally Academy team-mates Jérémi Ancian and Craig Breen setting the joint-fastest time.
Driving Michelin-shod Peugeot 207 Super 2000s, Ancian and Breen both took 7m26.1s to complete the 11.66-kilometre Crans-Montana stage.
“It was very slippery and a lot more so than I expected,” said Breen, currently third in the FIA European Rally Championship standings after 11 rounds. “It was very easy to make a mistake so we tried to drive as smooth as we could."
Ancian reached the stage finish with a mud-coated rear wheel. He said: "It's very strange because the road is dry but there is no grip. It is very difficult."
ERC Production Car Cup champion Andreas Aigner was third fastest, 4.3s down on the flying Peugeot pair. Driving a Subaru Impreza R4 STI on Yokohama tyres, Aigner completed in a time of 7m30.4s.
Grégoire Hotz, who clinched his seventh Swiss title this season, was 0.5s further back with Olivier Burri, the eight-time Valais winner, fifth quickest followed by Sébastien Carron, Vasily Gryazin, Nicolas Althaus and Esapekka Lappi, who spun his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000.
Robert Consani impressed with the 10th fastest time for Team Renault Sport Technologies, one place ahead of GPD Mit Metal Racing’s Jaroslav Orsák, who is competing in a Fabia S2000 for the first time in the ERC. Florian Gonon was 12th quickest in his Impreza.
Craig Breen has gone fastest outright on stage two of Rallye International du Valais, the 12.96-kilometre Anzčre test.
Irishman Breen shared the quickest time with Peugeot Rally Academy team-mate Jérémi Ancian on the opening test on round 12 of the FIA European Rally Championship but was 5.3s faster than the Frenchman on the second run.
However, Breen faces the prospect of picking up a chunk of road penalties for starting the stage out of order following a delay on the road section heading to the run.
“It was a good stage,” said Breen. “It was very slippery under the trees, very damp and muddy. I’m happy to be here, it was a big impact on a right corner close to the start of the stage but not so bad. We just hit a tyre.”
Ancian was also late starting the stage and now trails Breen by 5.3s in second overall heading to Thursday’s final stage. The Frenchman also faces the prospect of picking up time penalties and, like Breen, could drop down the order as a result.
Esapekka Lappi was third fastest for ŠKODA Motorsport with Andreas Aigner (Subaru Impreza R4 STI) fourth and Olivier Burri fifth in his Ford Fiesta RRC. Vyasin Gryazin was sixth quickest in a Fiesta S2000.
FIA European Rally Championship sensation Esapekka Lappi has underlined his potential with the fastest time through Thursday’s closing stage, the 6.18-kilometre Les Casernes test in Sion.
Lappi took 5m48.8s to complete the spectator special located within Sion’s military barracks with Jaroslav Orsák 8.5s behind in a similar ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000. Andreas Aigner, in a Subaru Impreza R4 STI, was third quickest, 9.3s down on Lappi with Jérémi Ancian fourth fastest for Peugeot Rally Academy.
Russian teenager Vasily Gryazin was next up, 13.9s adrift of Lappi, with Craig Breen sixth quickest after a cautious run on the stage, which was coated in mud and gravel after being used for the pre-event shakedown earlier today.
With three stages complete, Aigner is classified as the leader with an advantage of 3.7s over Lappi after Ancian and Breen were hit with hefty time penalties for starting stage two behind schedule after they were delayed on the road section heading to the run. Breen has been hit with a two-minute penalty with Ancian currently running with a three-minute penalty. However, the penalties are currently being reviewed so the positions remain provisional and subject to official confirmation.
Crews are now in service in Sion for a 45-minute halt. Leg two begins with the 26.58 kilometres of Vercorin at 09:45hrs on Friday.
After SS4: Lappi leads, Ancian fastest, more trouble for Breen
Esapekka Lappi has shot into the lead of Rallye International du Valais as Craig Breen’s hopes of fighting back up the order suffered an early setback when he damaged his car’s steering on Friday’s opening test.
Breen is attempting to cancel out the two-minute time penalty handed out for an early check-in prior to stage three. However, a hit early on the 26.58-kilometre Veysonnaz test has left his Peugeot Rally Academy 207 Super 2000 with damaged powersteering.
"We had no powersteering for most of the stage,” said the dejected Irishman. “There's nothing I can do. I clipped something and it went immediately. The gravel is pulling the car everywhere.”
Breen, who needs to score 27 points to finish in second place in the final FIA European Rally Championship standings, was 40s off the pace of Peugeot Rally Academy two-mate Jérémi Ancian, who was fastest through the 26.58-kilometre Vercorin stage. “It was a very great stage time,” said Ancian. “But sometimes you have little grip and sometimes you have no grip.”
Out front, ŠKODA Motorsport driver Lappi, who was 8.9s adrift of Ancian through the stage, now leads overnight pacesetter Andreas Aigner by 5.1s. “It was not so bad, no problems,” said Lappi. “The gravel part was funny because you can have slides all the time.”
Aigner, meanwhile, wasn’t downhearted despite dropping out of top spot in his Subaru Impreza when he completed the stage 8.8s slower than Lappi. “The time was not bad at all,” said Aigner. “It was really funny, sometimes really tricky with the damp parts on the road. I tried to push and go fast, it was difficult but it was a really nice stage.”
Olivier Burri was fourth quickest in a Ford Fiesta RRC with Vasily Gryazin fifth fastest and Nicolas Althaus sixth best after admitting he was too cautious in the damp sections of the stage.
After SS5: Ancian fastest again as Aigner fights back
Jérémi Ancian has gone quickest again on Rallye International du Valais with the fastest time through stage five, Veysonnaz.
Ancian, who was quickest on Friday’s opening test, took 7m52.2s to complete the 13.62-kilometre stage in his Peugeot Rally Academy 207 Super 2000.
Esapekka Lappi, who was 2.1s slower than Ancian, continues to lead the FIA European Rally Championship counter for ŠKODA Motorsport but Andreas Aigner remains in contention for top spot after he completed the stage a mere 0.4s slower than his rival.
Craig Breen, who is driving with no powersteering, said the stage was a “disaster” after he took 51.9s more than Ancian to complete the run. Stage six is now running.
After SS6: Aigner closes on Lappi in ERC glory chase
Jérémi Ancian has made it three stage wins out of three on leg two of Rallye International du Valais as the battle for victory on round 12 of the FIA European Rally Championship continues to intensify.
Esapekka Lappi, in a ŠKODA Motorsport Fabia Super 2000, continues to lead the Swiss season finale but his margin ahead of Andreas Aigner is down to 2.9s after Aigner was quicker than Lappi through the 12.08-kilometre Nendaz stage.
While Ancian is on a high following another impressive performance in his Peugeot 207 Super 2000, Peugeot Rally Academy team-mate Craig Breen continues to lose time with broken powersteering. He was 45.2s slower than Ancian as his hopes of a fight back fade.
"On the wide roads it's fine and I can manage it but in the narrow parts and where it's bumpy it pulls the wheel out of your hands and the car goes everywhere,” said Breen. “I put my heart and soul into winning this rally and when things like this happen it's hard to take."
Elsewhere, Russian teenager Vasily Gryazin impressed with the third fastest time behind Ancian and Aigner with Olivier Burri the fastest Swiss driver with the fourth best time in a Ford Fiesta RRC. Lappi matched Burri’s effort with Nicolas Althaus sixth quickest and Swiss champion Grégoire Hotz seventh fastest. Jaroslav Orsák was ninth quickest for GPD Mit Metal Racing Team, one place behind Florian Gonon.
Esapekka Lappi has thrown caution to the wind with a charging time through stage seven of Rallye International du Valais, the final round of the 2013 FIA European Rally Championship season.
The 22-year-old had insisted that learning rather than winning was his main target in Switzerland. However, by going fastest on the 26.58-kilometre Vercorin stage he’s now 25.2s ahead of Andreas Aigner in the battle for first place.
“I had a small headache and took a pink pill, maybe that's the reason [why I have gone faster],” said Lappi, who drives a ŠKODA Motorsport Fabia Super 2000 for the Czech factory team. “The grip was much better now and I feel good all the time. The headache has gone.”
Aigner, meanwhile, conceded that he couldn’t go any faster in his production-based Subaru Impreza: “It's not possible to go faster with the Group N car. I really try and keep on pushing.”
With the powersteering on his Peugeot 207 Super 2000 repaired in midday service, Craig Breen was closer to the pace. The Irishman was second quickest, 5.6s down on Lappi. Breen’s team-mate Jérémi Ancian was third quickest, 4.4s further back and now climbs to sixth place in the overall classification. Aigner was fourth quickest, 22.3s adrift of Lappi’s best.
Having run with a down-on-power engine during the morning, Grégoire Hotz took advantage of repairs in service with the fifth fastest time. Stage eight, Veysonnaz, goes live at 14:50hrs local time.
After SS8: Lappi increases ERC advantage in Valais
Esapekka Lappi continues to lead round 12 of the FIA European Rally Championship after going fastest again on stage eight of Rallye International du Valais.
ŠKODA Motorsport driver Lappi was 0.7s quicker than Jérémi Ancian (Peugeot Rally Academy) and now leads Subaru Impreza driver Andreas Aigner in the overall classification by 31.1s with two stages of the second leg remaining.
“I have a good feeling now,” said Lappi. “The grip is okay. Even in the last two kilometres, which was wet, the grip was unbelievably good and we are enjoying. I am not on the limit and I have the margin to go faster.”
Behind Ancian, Craig Breen was third fastest, 1.9s down on Lappi, with Swiss champion Grégoire Hotz fourth fastest and Aigner fifth quickest.
After SS9: The speed is back as Ancian takes stage win
Jérémi Ancian confirmed the “speed is back” after he went fastest of all on stage nine of the FIA European Rally Championship counter in Switzerland.
Ancian took 6m43.0s to make it through the 12.08-kilometre Nendaz run in his Peugeot Rally Academy 207 Super 2000.
He was 2.0s quicker than team-mate Craig Breen, who shared the joint second-fastest time with ŠKODA driver Esapekka Lappi. “The speed is back and I am very happy because I was faster than Esapekka,” said Ancian, who is now 29.2s behind fifth-placed Nicolas Althaus.
Out front Lappi’s overall lead on Rallye International du Valais has increased to 38.3s over Andreas Aigner in a Subaru Impreza. Aigner was fifth quickest on the stage, 9.2s down on Ancian, in his production-based car.
The final stage of leg two, Les Casernes, gets underway at 16:00hrs local time and consists of three and a half laps of a course through Sion’s army barracks.
After SS10: Orsak on top on Sion spectator special
Jaroslav Orsák has scored his second stage win in this year’s FIA European Rally Championship with a rapid run through the day-closing Les Casernes test in Sion.
Orsák took 5m43.3s to negotiate the tight and twisty spectator special in his GPD Mit Metal Racing Team ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000. He was 2.0s faster than Peugeot Rally Academy’s Craig Breen with Esapekka Lappi a further 4.8s adrift in his factory Fabia.
“We made some good progress today and enjoyed a lot the driving,” said Orsák’s co-driver Lukáš Kostka. Orsák’s only other fastest stage time came on the Internationale Jännerrallye at the start of the season when he was driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX.
Out front on Rallye International du Valais, Lappi’s advantage over Andreas Aigner stands at 43.7s. Saturday’s action begins with the 9.53-kilometre Champex stage at 09:40hrs local time.
After SS11: Breen is the fastest climber in the ERC
Craig Breen has gone fastest on Saturday’s opening stage, which peaked at a height of 1489 metres and was described as being “horrifically slippery” in some sections following overnight rain.
Breen took 6m44.4s to complete the 9.53-kilometre Champex test for his second fastest outright time on the FIA European Rally Championship season-closer. The stage ran up hill from start to finish with the stop line located at a ski resort.
“It was horrifically slippery so I was a little too cautious in some places,” said the Peugeot Rally Academy driver, who was 0.4s faster than team-mate Jérémi Ancian. Breen continues to occupy eighth overall while Ancian is now 2.1s behind fifth-placed Nicolas Althaus.
In the battle for victory, Esapekka Lappi now leads Andreas Aigner by 48.2s after going third fastest through the stage in his ŠKODA Motorsport Fabia Super 2000. “If we can continue like this at this speed then it’s no problem to be at the top of the podium but it’s a long way to go,” said the Finn.
Aigner, who is driving a production-based Subaru Impreza, said: “It was difficult for us and our car with a lot of hairpins. The driving was not so bad with no big risks but I am okay. It's slow going forward out of the hairpins.”
Pascal Perroud, who is running first on the road and having to cope with significant sections of standing water, has dropped outside the top 10 after he was outpaced by ERC 2WD Championship leader Sylvain Michel.
After SS12: Lappi remains calm despite stage scare
Esapekka Lappi continues to lead Rallye International du Valais despite an overshoot costing him some 12 seconds in the battle for FIA European Rally Championship glory.
With approximately nine kilometres of the 16.96-kilometre Bruson test run on gravel, Lappi adopted a cautious approach in his ŠKODA Motorsport Fabia Super 2000 but was still unable to avoid his minor indiscretion.
“We are driving carefully but in one very tight hairpin near the start we overshot the junction and had to reverse,” said Lappi, whose advantage over second-placed Subaru Impreza driver Andreas Aigner is cut to 35.7s with two stages of the morning loop left to run.
Stage winner Craig Breen completed the run fearing he’d punctured the front-left tyre on his Peugeot Rally Academy entry. “I thought it happened coming out of the gravel section,” said the Irishman. “I was a bit cautious in there.”
Despite his puncture fears, Breen outpaced team-mate Jérémi Ancian by 4.2s. With GPD Mit Metal Racing Team’s Jaroslav Orsák losing time overshooting a junction, Ancian and Breen have moved ahead of the Czech into sixth and seventh places respectively.
Vasily Gryazin reached the stage finish with a front-right puncture on his Ford Fiesta S2000, while Florian Gonon struggled through the stage when his Impreza’s side windows misted up and made it difficult for the Swiss driver to see where he was going.
After SS13: Tree hit no problem for Ancian in Verbier
Not even a brush with a tree could prevent Jérémi Ancian from setting the pace on stage 13 of Rallye du Valais, the 15.52-kilometre Verbier test, which featured sections on gravel and asphalt and finished at a height of 2000 metres.
Ancian was 2.4s faster than Peugeot Rally Academy team-mate Craig Breen and moves ahead of Nicolas Althaus into fifth overall on the FIA European Rally Championship season-finale. Ancian completed the stage with damage to the left-hand side of his 207 Super 2000 but played down the incident: “In the slippery section, in a slow corner I had a little tree but no problem."
In the battle for third place, Olivier Burri is now 54.7s clear of Vasily Gryazin despite reporting that he wasn’t happy with his time at the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RRC. Gryazin, meanwhile, said the challenging conditions were “hard for his head”.
Out front, ŠKODA Motorsport’s Esapekka Lappi has restored his comfortable advantage over Andreas Aigner. The Finn is now 46.7s clear of the Austrian, who is competing in a production-based Subaru Impreza. Stage 14, Les Cols, is the longest of the rally at 37.13 kilometres.
Andreas Aigner has crashed out of Rallye International du Valais. The Austrian was in second place on the FIA European Rally Championship season-closer but retired his Subaru Impreza early into the 37.13 kilometres of Les Cols.
The longest stage of the Swiss event began with a steep climb to 1600 metres over the opening 10 kilometres. There is a fast section on gravel measuring approximately five kilometres with a descent to the finish.
Aigner and co-driver Barbara Watzl, who were leading the ERC Production Car Cup category, are uninjured but their Stohl Racing-run car has suffered extensive damage. Following Aigner’s accident, the stage is currently neutralised. Craig Breen has set the fastest time so far, the Irishman 24m10.8s to complete the run. Event leader Esapekka Lappi has yet to tackle the stage but is due to start at 12:25hrs local time. More to follow…
Craig Breen has moved into third overall on Rallye International du Valais after Vasily Gryazin retired one kilometre from the start of stage 15, the repeat of the 9.53-kilometre Champex stage.
Gryazin, a 19-year-old from Russia, had excelled on the FIA European Rally Championship qualifier but stopped when his Ford Fiesta S2000 suffered a mechanical failure.
Breen, meanwhile, was fastest through the stage in his Peugeot Rally Academy 207 Super 2000. He was 0.4s quicker than team-mate Jérémi Ancian, who moves into sixth overall having stopped to change a punctured front-left tyre on stage 14.
Jaroslav Orsák has climbed ahead of Nicolas Althaus into what is now fourth overall following Gryazin’s exit. Esapekka Lappi’s overall lead ahead of Olivier Burri stands at 1m34.5s with three stages remaining. Burri was third quickest in Champex, 1.8s slower than Breen.
Olivier Burri might face a fight to hold on to second place on Rallye International du Valais after his Ford Fiesta RRC developed an engine glitch on the 9.53-kilometre Bruson test.
Burri was 17.1s slower than Craig Breen, who is now 1m05.8s behind in the battle for second place with two stages remaining. “We have a problem with the engine, it’s no good, we have no power, the cylinders are dropping,” said the eight-time Valais winner.
Esapekka Lappi, who holds a comfortable lead on the FIA European Rally Championship qualifier, was fastest through the stage in his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000. In a sensational performance, Lappi was 21.1s quicker than Jérémi Ancian in a Peugeot 207 S2000 with Breen third quickest, 4.5s down on Lappi.
“It was the best time so you have to be happy,” said Lappi. “It came without any mistakes, we had a good rhythm and a lot of fun.”
The penultimate stage, the repeat of the 15.52-kilometre Verbier run, is next.
Jérémi Ancian has made it two wins out of two on the Verbier stage, edging Rallye International du Valais leader Esapekka Lappi by 0.1s.
Driving a Peugeot Rally Academy 207 Super 2000, Ancian took 10m51.8s to complete the 15.52-kilometre test. “I have a good feeling in this stage and I am very happy. The time is amazing, I am amazing.”
Ancian is now 9.4s behind fifth-placed Nicolas Althaus with one stage of the FIA European Rally Championship qualifier remaining.
Lappi, meanwhile, said: “I push the throttle maybe more than the others, I don't know. It's a very nice feeling all the time and I have found the flow mode. It's a very, very long stage left so we have to concentrate. I could not believe I would be leading the rally. It's unbelievable but I am pleased for sure.”
Olivier Burri continues to be hampered by an intermittent engine problem on his Ford Fiesta RRC, which the eight-time Valais winner believes could be the result of an injector issue. He is 58.6s ahead of Craig Breen starting the final 25.15-kilometre stage. Breen was 9.1s slower than his stage-winning team-mate Ancian.
ERC 2WD Championship leader Laurent Reuche is also reporting engine problems on his Renault Clio R3.
Esapekka Lappi has won the final round of the 2013 FIA European Rally Championship.
The Finn, co-driven by compatriot Janne Ferm, cemented a sensational performance on Rallye International du Valais by winning the event-closing Col des Planches stage in his ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000, going 4.2s faster than Craig Breen over the 25.15-kilometre run.
“It's been a quite good two weeks,” said Lappi. “I never believed I would win here and this is absolutely fantastic. For sure it's special on Tarmac, my first proper win. It's very good to end the season like this. We're improving on Tarmac and this is good for next season.”
Despite struggling with a loss of engine power, Olivier Burri held on to second place with Craig Breen fighting back from his earlier delays to finish third in the final classification. Burri’s advantage over Breen was down to eight seconds at the stage finish.
Breen’s Peugeot Rally Academy team-mate Jérémi Ancian snatched fourth spot from Jaroslav Orsák by going third fastest. Florian Gonon won the ERC Production Car Cup category for Subaru with Sylvain Michel claiming ERC 2WD honours on the final stage after Laurent Reuche dropped back with an engine problem on his Renault Clio R3.
Crews will now head to Martigny for a 10-minute service halt and the ceremonial finish.