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Amberg draws clear of Junior WRC on home ground in Finland

2 August 2013:
Amberg draws clear of Junior WRC on home ground in Finland

Amberg draws clear of Junior WRC on home ground in Finland
Finland’s Andreas Amberg has taken over the FIA Junior WRC Championship lead on home soil at Neste Oil Rally Finland heading into Friday’s final overnight halt after eight highly unpredictable stages for the category’s drivers in their Hankook-shod, GEM-fuelled Ford Fiesta R2s. Sander Pärn (EST) and current championship leader Pontus Tidemand (SWE) round out the Top 3 overnight.

Amberg set the pace on three of today´s nine stages to claim three Junior WRC Stage Points and open up a lead of more than two minutes by the end of the day, despite losing time early on with a punctured tyre. But that was nothing compared to the problems that befell his nearest challengers Pärn and Tidemand who suffered two punctures apiece.

Notably Pärn’s second puncture cost him close to two minutes, while Tidemand was delayed by an even bigger margin by time penalties incurred when a damaged suspension component was replaced on his car and he was late leaving the service area. This cost Tidemand dearly as he fell from second to sixth, but with his customary determination, he cast the time loss aside as a minor set-back and headed into the afternoon focused and putting in some impressive times, including his first stage win of the event on SS14.

After Tidemand´s misfortune, Niko-Pekka Nieminen (FIN) briefly moved into third place only to then roll on SS13. His retirement, along with that of young Slovak Martin Koci, allowed Tidemand to reclaim the final podium spot overnight– a position he´ll be keen to hold after his closest title rival Jose Antonio Suarez (ESP) retired from the day with a broken oil sump after a heavy landing. Nieminen, Koci and Suarez will all restart tomorrow morning under Rally 2 regulations.

Six Junior WRC crews successfully finished Day Two. Outside the Top 3, Yeray Lemes (ESP) lies in fourth, Marius Aasen (NOR) followed him home in fifth and Michael Burri (SUI) sits in a comfortable sixth.

The event finishes on Saturday afternoon after four more stages totalling 65km – they include the legendary 33km Ouninpohja test.

FIA Junior WRC – Top 3 Quotes
Andreas Amberg: “Today has been kind to us but I’ve also had a few moments, plus some problems with wishbones and front dampers. OK, a two-minute lead going into tomorrow, but it still won’t be easy. I need to get into a rhythm quickly, keep up the speed and stay in the middle of the road.”

Sander Pärn: “That second puncture really hurt – I drove eight kilometres on it, but I think I would have lost more time if I had stopped to change it. The gaps to Andreas in front and back to Pontus behind is safe either side provided there are no problems.”

Pontus Tidemand: “At least when things have been running OK the speed has been there to give us bonus points for two stage wins and we’ll go for more tomorrow. I don’t think it’s possible to make any more places but you never know – if tomorrow is the same as today anything can still happen.”

FIA Junior WRC – Provisional Classification Day 2 Neste Oil Rally Finland

1. A. Amberg (FIN) / M. Lukka (FIN), 1 hour, 57 minutes, 4.6 seconds
2.S. Pärn (EST) / K. Järveoja (EST), +2m06.8s
3.P. Tidemand (SWE) / O. Floene (NOR), +3m15.8s
4.Y. Lemes (ESP) / R. Penate (ESP), +3m38.1s
5.M. Aasen (NOR) / M. Engan (NOR), +3m55.9s
6.M. Burri (CHE) / G. Moreau (FRA), 8m49.1s
7.N-P. Nieminen (FIN) / A. Koponen (FIN), Rally 2
8.M. Koci (SVK) / P. Stary (CZE), Rally 2
9.J. Antonio Suarez (ESP) / C. Carrera (ESP), *Rally 2
10.M .Bostanci (TUR) / O. Vatansever (TUR), Retired