On the final day of the 50th anniversary of SATA Rallye Acores, the fight for victory is expected to come down to just two drivers – and they happen to be separated by just half a second after SS12!
They are also the drivers who are currently classified first and second in the European Rally Championship, separated by only three points. So not only is a rally win up for grabs, but also a championship lead. The stakes are high on the final six stages.
The rally leader is currently Kajto Kajetanowicz, by less than a second after the first stage today. European Rally Championship leader Craig Breen, in a Peugeot 208 T16, is bidding for his third consecutive victory in the European Rally Championship and is runner-up in Azores at the moment.
Seven-time Azorean champion Ricardo Moura is nearly a minute and a half behind them, after admitting that there is no way he can stick with the pace of the leading duo.
So what do the top two have to say about the final fight, which takes place over more than 100 tricky kilometres today?
“I’m not happy with our tyre choice this morning; the tyres were too hard,” said Kajetanowicz. “But I just want to say how much I am enjoying this battle with Craig. I have no idea how it will finish but whatever happens it will not stop me enjoying it. Maybe the best part of the rally so far has been Sete Cidades: for me, it’s what rallying is all about. Today we have a big challenge ahead but we have no choice about our tactics: we have to keep pushing.”
As for Breen, he’s up for the fight – but thoughts of victory on the 50th SATA Rallye Acores are far from his mind.
“It’s not something I’m thinking about, because you have to take each stage at a time,” said Breen. “Kajto is a brilliant driver, no question, and it’s going to take a lot to beat him. The thing is, you have so many variables on this event: the weather being one of them. And then the grip can change from one moment to the next. I’m trying not to take any unnecessary risks, but it’s so easy to make a small mistake here that can have big consequences. You just have to do the best that you can and keep your fingers crossed. So that’s what I’ll be doing today.”
The current Junior leader is Chris Ingram, backed by Peugeot UK. “We’ve got a 20-second lead in the class, and while that’s not a lot, that’s a reasonably big margin for here – as the level of competition is so close. It means that we can’t relax, but there’s still a small margin there, so the plan is just to carry on where we are and try to make the most of it.”