Azores Rallye

The perfect start for Loeb in Day 1 of maiden Azores Rallye


Four out of five stage wins on the opening day of 2023 TER Series Round 2


In a double maiden outing, on the Portuguese island’s iconic challenging gravel stages and with the new Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, rallying legend Sébastien Loeb and partner Laurène Godey took four consecutive stage wins in the opening day of 57th Azores Rallye. Choosing to start in eighth place, after being second fastest in the qualifying stage, the 9-time World Champion quickly took his marks with the latest evolution of the Czech car to build a 15.1 seconds overnight lead over team mates Andreas Mikkelsen with Torstein Eriksen; fastest in the qualifying stage, the Norwegians were hampered by a puncture in the opening test; despite a cautious approach in the rest of the afternoon, they held on to second place, increasing the gap over their closer pursuers to 21.0 seconds.


With the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 proving its strength, Ole Christian Veiby and Stig Rune Skjærmoen set second fastest time in the opening test, then retained third by 15.4 seconds after Mikkelsen’s comeback.


Just outside the podium, a great fight is ongoing between two crews returning to the TER – Tour European Rally after some years: the gap between the Fabias of multiple Portuguese and Azores Champions Ricardo Moura, codriven by Antonio Costa, and the Czech crew of Erik Cais and Petr Těšínský was at most of 2 seconds, and is only 0.3 seconds overnight.


Some seconds lost in the second loop due to a not perfect tyre choice, when he was fourth overall, caused Spanish 2017 Junior and WRC3 World Champion Nil Solans, codriven by Marc Marti to drop down to sixth overnight, only 4.8 seconds behind Cais.


There is another fight over seconds between two Portuguese crews driving Škodas: 3-time Azores Regional Champion Luis Miguel Rego with Jorge Henriques are managing a small advantage of just under 6 seconds over 2021 Azores Champion brothers Ruben and Estevão Rodrigues.


Driving the only Ford Fiesta R5 in the event, Bruno Amaral and Sancho Eiró are ninth, with Spain’s Pablo Diez and Axel Coronado closing the top ten in another Fabia R5.

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