The Porsche 911 SC of 2019 champions Karl Wagner and Gerda Zauner ended the first leg of the Rally Elba Storico over 80 seconds ahead of the rest of the FIA EHRC contenders. However, a reoccurrence of the gearbox issues the car suffered in Finland has forced the team to retire the car and it will not start the second leg of the event.
The leading EHRC car is now the Lancia Rally 037 of Category 4 Drivers championship leader Ville Silvasti and Risto Pietilainen.
The first leg of the Rally Elba Storico started on Thursday evening with stage one run through the streets of Capoliveri. The no4 Porsche posted the best stage time, with Wagner and Zauner leading overnight by 11.8 seconds ahead of the no6 Ford Sierra RS Cosworth 4×4 of Hungarians Tibor Erdi and Zoltan Csoko, which was first in Category 4.
Ernie and Karen Graham were the overnight Category 2 leaders in 5th overall in the no14 Ford Escort RS1600, while Category 1 was led by the no23 Porsche 911 S of Antonio Parisi and Giuseppe D’Angelo.
The second day saw a further four stages to complete the first leg of the event. Karl Wagner and Gerda Zauner took the fastest EHRC time on each of the four stages to end the leg 1m21.9s ahead of the rest of the field before the gearbox issue forced the car into retirement.
In Category 4 Ville Silvasti and Risto Pietilainen finished the day 9.2s ahead of the Ford Sierra of Tibor Erdi and Zoltan Csoko, the Finns posting the fastest Category 4 EHRC time on stages 3 and 5 and the Hungarians going quickest on stages 2 and 4. Juergen Geist and Josef Kral in the no7 Opel Manta 400 got ahead of the no2 Ford Sierra RS Cosworth 4×4 of Mats Myrsell and Esko Junttila on the final stage of the day after the Swedes suffered a puncture, the Opel 14.2s off the lead after Stage 5, with the 4th placed Sierra 15.1s further back.
The no19 VW Golf 16S of Georg Reitsperger and Lana Sutlovic inherited the Category 3 EHRC lead following the retirement of Wagner’s Porsche. Reitsperger and Sutlovic went ahead of the no12 Volvo 244 of Siegfried and Category 3 Co-Drivers Championship leader Renate Mayr on the final stage of the day, but the gap is just 1.3s between the two cars ahead of the second leg tomorrow.
After leading Category 2 overnight the no14 Ford Escort of Ernie and Karen Graham slipped back after the no15 Ford Escort RS 1800 of Richard and Lucie Ronay posted the best time on stages 2 and 4 and James Potter and Caroline McCormack went quickest on stages 3 and 5. The day ended with Potter and McCormack holding a 39.9s lead over the Grahams, with another 23.5s to the no15 Ford.
The Category 1 leader will be the no26 Volvo 122 of Jari Hyvarinen and Jarno Ala-Turkia after the no23 Porsche 911S of Antonio Parisi and Giuseppe D’Angelo retired on stage 2 and the no24 BMW 2002 Ti of Carlo Fiorito and Marina Bertonasco retired on stage 5.
There were several more retirements before the end of the first leg of the Rally Elba Storico, the no3 BMW M3 of Valter Jensen and Erik Pedersen on SS2, the no8 Porsche 911 SC of Michael and Elizabeth Putz on SS4 and the no5 Porsche 911 Carrera RS of Paolo Pasutti and Giovanni Campeis, the no9 Subaru Legacy of Peter Magoss and Viktor Ban and the no11 Ford Escort of Will Graham and Robin Kellard on SS5.
The final six stages of the XXXIV Rally Elba Storico will begin on Saturday morning at 09h50 CEST and conclude at 16h20.