The Porsche of Austrians Karl Wagner and Gerda Zauner took victory on the Rally de Asturias Historico, but only after one of the favourites went off heavily on the opening before charging back up the order.
At the end of the opening day of only four tenths of a second separated the number six Porsche 911 SC of Austrians Karl Wagner / Gerda Zauner (Category 3) and the Ford Sierra Cosworth 4×4 of Spaniards Daniel Alonso / Candido Carrera (Category 4).
The current overall championship leaders Mats Myrsell and Esko Junttila in the no1 Ford Sierra Cosworth 4×4 (Category 4) were lying in third overall and second in class, 28.6 seconds behind the leading Porsche.
Category 2 was being led by the Porsche 911 Carrera RS 3.0 of Anders and Ingrid Johnsen, the Swedes finishing the day in fourth overall, 36.1 seconds behind the leaders. The second placed car in class wass another Porsche 911 Carrera RS 3.0, the Porsche of Italians Paolo Pasutti and Giovani Battista in ninth overall and 1m42s behind the Johnsen’s Porsche.
The Category one battle was led by the Ford Escort Twin Cam of British couple Ernie and Karen Graham, who are lying 11th overall at the end of the first day. They held a 42 second advantage over the second placed car in the class, the no Ford Escort Twin Cam of Heiko Dlugos and Tim Rauber.
Round two winners ‘Lucky’ and Fabrizia Pons (Lancia Delta Integrale) began the day well but on Special Stage Two (Rey Silo Hotel) the Lancia went off the road and rolled into a field. The Italian crew were both unharmed in the accident and the Key Sport Engineering team worked to repair the car ahead of Saturday’s restart in Pravia.
The second and final day of the Rally de Asturias Historico saw the overall victory in Round Three of the FIA European Historic Sporting Rally Championship go to the Porsche 911 SC of Wagner and Zauner. The Austrian crew finished the eleventh and final stage over one and half minutes ahead of Myrsell and Junttila in their Sierra Cosworth, the Swedes taking the Category 4 win to extend their overall championship lead.
The fastest car on all seven stages on Day Two in Spain was the Lancia ‘Lucky’ and Pons. The car looked battered and bruised after it’s off road excursion on SS2 on the opening day, with the K-Sport team working all night to get the Lancia ready to compete. ‘Lucky’ responded by posting the fastest time on each and every stage, pulling the car up from 16th overall at the start of the day, to fourth, 5 minutes 15 seconds behind the leading Porsche.
The Subaru Legacy 4WD Turbo of Antonio Sainz and Javier Martinez-Cattaneo were second in Category 4, finishing just over three minutes ahead of the Lancia and 38 seconds behind Myrsell’s Ford Sierra.
The Porsche 911 SC of Pentti Veikkanen and Timo Jaakkola maintained its position of second place in Category 3, the Finns finishing the day in seventh overall and 6 minutes 53 seconds behind class leader Karl Wagner.
The Porsche 911 Carrera RS 3.0 of Anders and Ingrid Johnsen continued to lead Category 2 until forced to retire on SS8 with an unreported problem. This promoted the Porsche 911 Carrera RS 3.0 of Paolo Pasutti and Giovani Battista to the class lead, the Italians finishing fifth overall at the end of the final stage.
The Category 1 battle was won convincingly by the Ford Escort Twin Cam of the Grahams, the British crew finishing two minutes ahead of the Ford Escort Twin Cam of Germany’s Heiko Dlugos and Tim Rauber.
The BMW M3 of Valter Jensen and Erik Pedersen also retired, the Norwegians lying in fourth overall after ten stages, only to fail to complete the eleventh and final stage of the rally.
Karl Wagner and Gerda Zauner celebrated with their teammates at the finish ceremony in the centre of Pravia. After the podium ceremony Karl Wagner said “I am really happy and very proud. We did a good race here, the team did a great job and this has meant we are here on the podium. We are the winners overall – the lucky winners.
“For us it is one step to get ahead in the championship. We can’t normally win against the four wheel driven cars but this time we pushed a lot. My thanks go to the organisers, to everyone here, who are doing a great job during this rally. The next event is very different, we were third overall in the Ypres Rally last year and we are looking forward to it next month.”
Round out of the 2019 FIA European Historic Sporting Rally Championship will take place in Belgium, with the Las Vegas Ypres Historic Rally on 27th-29th June.