Sniff Petrol rally correspondent BOB BULHAT reports on recent special stage action
The race for the Global Euro Rally Championship title really hotted up this weekend as the series descended on the dusty landscape of the Coup de Soleil for the famous Rally d’Asthma.
Championship leader Harri-Barri Plattomattonnen set the early form in his RallyeMax Extreem Total Xiom Citroen DS3 GERC K2 but he quickly had former team mate Leppi Hjovolovonovonen in the Rapscilon Racing Castrol ExtremeSport Citroen C2 GWRX Max R3R hard on his tail, just nine minutes behind after some electrifying action in the first 27 stages.
However, on the challenging 28th stage in the Domaine du Dust disaster struck Hjovolovonovonen when a collision with a gatepost caused his car to roll over six times, losing him an agonising five hours as he and co-driver Bob Stott re-built the front suspension with their bare hands, dropping them down to third.
This allowed Bjorn-Benny Grohnobolpolonosson in the Mikelsson X-treim FlyingTurtle Shell T-Max Citroen Xsara WCRC Junior N2-L R to move up into second place, a position he cemented with a series of blistering performances on stages 30 to 57 in the Forest di Hypothermea, despite two punctures and an end-over-end roll into a gulley which saw Grohnobolpolonosson and co-driver Ken Stubbs forced to dismantle the entire engine with their teeth, costing them a valuable 19 hours.
Less fortunate was former world champion Gunnerston Matterplappersonnersonn who hasn’t driven in any rallies this season but is doing this one for some reason and who had managed to get his Onsport Maxrun Hatstand Badger Plinth List of Unconnected Words Citroen BX RRWC X4-K Evolution R3(2) up to a solid fourth place with brilliant drive on stages 61 to 106 across the fast sections of the Il Terra de la Grit only to misjudge the high speed entry to a narrow gap between a barn wall and a telegraph pole with a bale in front of it causing him to roll 27 times down the side of a valley and into a river. Matterplappersonnersonn did a brilliant job of completely re-designing and then re-building the car from scratch using only co-driver John Scott’s one un-broken finger but the delay cost the pair over 17 days, putting them down to fifth.
Ultimately, Plattomattonnen remained dominant throughout the remaining 236 stages, sealing his place as the man who gets to drive his car onto a strange raised platform with a banner over it in an over-lit car park at night. As we move towards the challenging Rallye di Drizzle in just five weeks’ time this victory puts him 3674 points ahead of his nearest championship rival so the title really does remain completely wide open.