Defending Champion Araújo dominates field
Defending Champion Araújo dominates field, confirming bid for Championship double

Reigning P-WRC Champions Armindo Araújo (PRT) and Miguel Ramalho (PRT) led the sixth round of the FIA 2010 Production car World Rally Championship this weekend at ADAC Rallye Deutschland from the opening stage and never looked back. The impenetrable Portuguese pairing scooped their second victory of the season, clocking nine stage wins in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X and Araújo increased his Championship lead over second-placed Patrik Flodin (SWE) to a full 18 P-WRC points.

This impressive display didn’t always come easily though. A strong first day was followed by a taxing Day Two. A missed junction on SS7, a spin on SS10 and a puncture on SS11, which left Araújo with only one spare tyre, allowed the skill of Pirelli Star Driver Hayden Paddon (NZL) to come to the fore. The young New Zealand Champion set consistently strong stage times. He was unable to match Araújo’s pace, but kept the pressure on his fellow Mitsubishi driver, despite never having driven on tarmac before. Paddon’s form was rewarded by a well-deserved second place, sealing a full house of podium finishes in his three P-WRC rounds so far this season and earning him 18 P-WRC points. Unfortunately for Flodin, this reinforced Paddon’s third place in the Championship standings, leaving the Kiwi only seven points adrift of his Swedish rival.

Flodin did however scoop the final place on the P-WRC podium to take home 15 P-WRC points. He had a strong start to the rally and set competitive times, but when his engine began to overheat on SS5 and he started to lose horsepower, Paddon saw his chance to close in on the Swede. They started Day Two with only a second separating them, but while Paddon powered on relentlessly, Flodin missed a junction on SS10 and stalled his Subaru trying to correct his mistake. This error cost him over half a minute and allowed the Kiwi to snatch a second place that he refused to concede.

Nearly two minutes behind this trio, German guest driver Hermann Gassner Jnr finished in a clear fourth. He had hoped for a podium finish on home territory, but despite the troubles of both Araújo and Flodin, the top three proved too fast to catch. Nonetheless, he was pleased to earn his first 12 P-WRC points, which offered a positive precursor to a full season of P-WRC next year.

Finishing 11 minutes behind Gassner in fifth, Ott Tänak, the young Estonian Pirelli Star Driver who wowed the crowds with his performance in Finland, hit a curb and broke his suspension, forcing him to superally on Day One. Unable to compete for a place on the podium after this, he concentrated on finishing the rally and used the remainder of his first ever tarmac event as practice for France later in the year.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the rally came for two-time P-WRC Champion Toshi Arai (JPN). The hard compound tyres he chose to start the rally with were inappropriate for the heat of Day One, causing him to spin on SS3. Just as he recovered, a broken driveshaft on the next stage forced him to superally and his hopes of battling with old rival Araújo for the series victory were shattered. He proved his form on a series of strong opening stages the following day, but a puncture on SS10 then cost him over three minutes more. Things looked positive on the final day when he won the first two stages, but it was too little too late and he had to set his sights instead on Rally Japan, the next round of the P-WRC and his home event.

1st – Armindo Araújo (PRT): “This is a very important victory for me for the Championship. The last WRC event we drove on tarmac was Ireland in 2007 so we tested a lot before this event and we were able to find a good set up. I really loved the rally, these are the kind of stages I like and I'm very happy to have won here. Hayden was a fantastic rival and he really put me under pressure, but I was pleased to come home with the victory. ”

2nd – Hayden Paddon (NZL): “This is a real surprise! It's my first event on tarmac and we didn't quite know where we were going to stand. Armindo did a fantastic job and I am happy just to be able to keep his pace and put some pressure on him. I will be in Japan with my own team and I'm really going to try to win there.”

3rd – Patrik Flodin (SWE): “It was a really tough weekend, but as I don't have much experience on tarmac, I am happy with third place. Congratulations to Armindo and Hayden - they were really fast and unfortunately I just couldn't match their pace. I tried to drive my own rally and stay out of trouble to score a many points as possible for the Championship. I really like Rally Japan and I hope I can do well there to keep my Championship hopes alive.”

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