FAFE RALLY, PIRELLI MAKES IT A TRIPLE IN THE FIRST ERC RACE AND LEADS NEW ZEALANDER PADDON TO VICTORY
Pirelli drivers also triumphed in the RC3 and RC4 categories. The tyres fitted on the winners' cars were from the Scorpion off-road range
The opening round of the ERC with the Serras de Fafe Rally could not have gone better for Pirelli, who made it a trio by winning in all categories, but above all by bringing Hayden Paddon, at the wheel of a Hyundai i20 N Rally2 and with navigator John Kennard at his side, to the top of the podium.
Paddon, who drove a flawless race, always within a few seconds of the leaders, took advantage at the end of a puncture suffered during the Power Stage by Mikko Heikkila in a Skoda Fabia Rally2.
Craig Breen's performance was also good (again on a Hyundai) who finished in sixth place, winning not only the Power Stage on Sunday, but also three other special stages out of a total of eight, while Robert Virves on a Ford Fiesta Rally2, again on Pirelli tyres, won two and Paddon one. Breen finished victorious in two other special stages on the previous days, contributing to Pirelli's success in the single stage tally as well. Overall, cars on long P tyres were first 10 times out of the 14 valid stages run, including the opening stage, which went to Teodosio Ricardo in a Hyundai.
Tyres for the winner and the other Pirelli drivers were the Scoprion gravel range in the K8A, K6A and K6B versions, which alternated in different ground conditions, very similar to last year's, in a tight race, always won by Pirelli. The wet and muddy surfaces on Saturday meant that the K8As were favoured, while on the final day the K6As also took the field, on the drying terrain.
"Congratulations to Paddon for a great race and the final victory," commented Terenzio Testoni, Pirelli Rally Activity Manager. "It is not usual to see a New Zealander and, in general, a non-European win on the roads of our continent, but he showed he believed in it right to the end. From a technical point of view, I am very satisfied with the seasonal debut of our tyres in the European championship: the Scorpion range in the Erc, as well as in the version optimised for the World Championship, confirms its absolute validity in terms of performance and reliability. It will not be an easy championship, in fact I expect it to be very hard fought, but we will know how to play our part as we did last year, when we won 5 out of the 8 rallies of the season".
In RC3, Jon Armstrong in a Pirelli-tyred Ford Fiesta won, while in RC4, Roberto Daprà in a Peugeot 204 (Pirelli) was victorious.