Andrea Crugnola and Michele Ferrara experienced a difficult weekend at RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada in their works Clio R3T, prepared by ASM Motorsport. Despite their problems and those experienced by their fellow competitors – no one escaped unscathed – Renault Sport Technologies still leads the Teams standings in the FIA WRC 3. Andrea Crugnola, third in the Drivers’ standings, still has a chance of finishing on the final podium.
Team Renault Sport Technologies’ Clio R3T crew took part in the sixth and final outing of its 2015 World Rally Championship programme. Andrea Crugnola, alongside co-driver Michele Ferrara, tackled the only mixed-surface event on the calendar following three tarmac. Contested in Catalonia, Rally de España featured an opening day predominantly on gravel followed by two legs on tarmac, after the first stage was held in the streets of Barcelona on Thursday evening.
Unfortunately, the Italian crew was unable to take part in this opening test due to an electrical problem, seriously jeopardising their chances of securing a good result from the outset. After rejoining under Rally 2 rules on Friday, the Clio R3T proved to be fast on gravel and tarmac. Andrea Crugnola finished in the top five on the first three stages before striking a mighty blow on Terra Alta (SS5, 35.68km), the longest stage of the weekend. In winning the stage, he finished significantly clear of some of his rivals. In the afternoon, he recorded three consecutive top-three times but ended SS8 with a leaking radiator, following a minor impact with a branch. Unfortunately, he had to retire on SS9. After deciding to rejoin on Saturday morning, he had to retire again, the engine of his Clio R3T overheating as a result of the damage to the radiator.
“It’s a shame, I made a minor mistake but the consequences were major, with the damaged radiator and the problems that ensued,” commented Andrea Crugnola. “But I was pleased with the times we set and the progress made with the car. We were able to do some good things at this event. We showed that on Friday, with our consistency. I would like to thank Renault Sport Technologies for the opportunity they have given me this year to compete in the WRC 3 in a Clio R3T.”
“It was a frustrating rally,” said Sylvain Alanore, Renault Sport Technologies’ Team Manager. “The electrical fault on Thursday evening prevented us from getting off to a good start. Given the stakes, we had to continue to try and pick up some points. On Friday, the Clio R3T proved to be fast and versatile, setting the kind of times we had hoped for. But we were unlucky with the damaged radiator, due to the impact of a small object. The engine then suffered as a result of this initial problem.”
“The year ends on bit of a sour note, whereas it has been a good season,” continued Sylvain Alanore. “Although we’re not competing at Wales Rally GB, Andrea can still finish third in the WRC 3 but the final outcome is out of our hands. We have an even better chance in the Teams standings, which we’re leading. Depending on the result of our rivals in Wales, we could well add another title to Renault Sport’s competitive record. That would be just reward for a season in which we have shown good performance levels on all surfaces. This also augurs well for the 2016 season, in which the winner of this year’s Clio R3T European Trophy will complete the same WRC 3 programme.”
WRC 3 standings - Drivers
1. Quentin Gilbert 100 points
2. Simone Tempestini 81 points
3. Andrea Crugnola 70 points
4. Ole Christian Veiby 67 points …
WRC 3 standings - Teams
1. Renault Sport Technologies 98 points
2. PRINTSPORT 94 points
3. ACI Team Italia 85 points…