Sunday, 3 April 2011

Cristofaro overcomes gearbox problems to maintain championship positions

Rally driver Nick Cristofaro, from Milford Haven, battled gearbox problems all day on the Bulldog International Rally but he came away from a difficult event with a good haul of points to maintain both his fifth position in the British Rally Championship (BRC) Formula 2 standings and second in the Fiesta Sporting Trophy (FST).

Cristofaro and co-driver Rob Fagg were contesting the Welshpool-based event in their TEG Sport-run Ford Fiesta ST with support from Pirelli, Genpower UK, Autoglym, Millers Oils, Nicky Grist and Cut In Edge and their rally commenced with the Llangywer and Penllyn stages near Bala. The gearbox problems started in stage one with the car jumping out of second gear meaning that Cristofaro had to drive one-handed on the tight corners so he could hold the gear lever in position.

Despite the problem he completed the opening stages 7th in class and 5th in the Fiestas, positions which were maintained over the next two stages before the crews headed to a service halt back in Welshpool.

“I was quite pleased with our position early on as we lost a lot of time in the tight and twisty parts of the stages with having to hold the car in gear,” said Cristofaro. “Conditions were pretty tricky in some of the stages with the opening tests being particularly slippery.”

The rally then moved to the forests of Gartheiniog and Dyfi for two loops of three stages. Cristofaro continued his battle with the other Fiesta crews and with two stages to go he had moved to within one second of third place. Unfortunately further gearbox problems prevented him from pushing for a podium position.

“We had high hopes of getting up to third in the Fiestas but in the penultimate stage I was coming down through the gears and the lever got stuck in third. There was nothing I could do to free it so we had to drive the last two stages in third gear which was very tough.”

“It was a difficult day for me but I kept fighting the problems and it’s great to get some valuable championship points to keep us in fifth on the Formula 2 leaderboard and second in the Fiestas”

Nicks BRC and FST campaigns will continue with the Pirelli International Rally at the end of the month.

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