Brilliant second for Reeves at WRC Academy opener
- 1st April 2012, 11:22am
Brendan Reeves and Rhianon Smyth have had a fantastic start to the 2012 World Rally Championship (WRC) Academy season at Rally Portugal, taking second place. The first round of the six-event series was run in very difficult conditions with heavy overnight rain on Thursday night making Friday's stages treacherous.
The event started perfectly for the Australians - they won the opening stage of the event, the Super Special Stage in Lisbon on Thursday evening - and then set consistent times on the following three gravel stages run at night, to hold down second place at the overnight halt.
The overnight rain on Thursday caused chaos on Friday's morning stages with many crews retiring from the event as a result of sliding off the slippery roads or mechanical issues caused by their cars ingesting water. Reeves, however, kept a cool head and maintained his second position. Friday's three afternoon stages were cancelled by rally organisers due to the deteriorating weather conditions.
With WRC Academy competitors required to complete just the three morning stages on Saturday, Brendan started the final day 59.4 seconds adrift of the the overnight leader. Two brilliant stage times on the two opening stages of the day, including a stage win on SS12, saw him reduce the gap to just 39.8 seconds.
With his eyes firmly focussed on a podium place, Reeves again set another impressive stage time to consolidate his second place. The two stage wins will earn him bonus points.
Reeves was absolutely delighted after the rally, the result being just reward for all the hard work he and Rhianon have done to get to the event.
“It feels so good to get this result. The conditions have been tough and Alastair [Fisher] hasn’t made it an easy weekend for us. But with two stage wins and second overall we couldn’t be happier," he said.
“We took it a bit easier yesterday in the wet but went for it today. The stages had a lot more grip and we felt very comfortable in the car so we decided to push. We wanted to keep the pressure on Alastair but he drove really well all weekend.
“It was a great rally for us and we couldn’t be on the podium with better people! We have had a lot of support to allow us to be here and it is all thanks to them. We now need to focus on getting more support to keep the momentum going for the rest of the season.”
Reeves and Smyth will return to Australia early this week in order to test the Mazda RX8 SP that they will drive in Targa Tasmania which starts on April 17. They will then return to Europe in May for the second round of the WRC Academy, the Acropolis Rally in Greece.
Listen to Reeves' post-event interview with iRally here.
PROVISIONAL WRC ACADEMY CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 1:
1. Fisher 25pts + 3 stage wins = 28pts
2. Reeves (Australia) 18pts + 2 stage wins = 20pts
3. Tidemand 15pts + 1 stage win = 16pts
4. Van Der Marel = 12pts
5. Åhlin 8pts + 3 stage wins = 11pts
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