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Circuit Frustration for Jon and Noel

(April 07, 2015)

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Jon Armstrong went in to the event hoping to match up to Europe’s best young drivers, and on his home stages he showed he was going to the driver to beat as he raced into a lead after stage two, posting a time 17 seconds fastest than his nearest rival. He continued to build his advantage during the day and by the end of day has amassed an advantage of over 30 seconds.

“We were going pretty well,” admitted Jon. “I was pushing hard but I still had a bit of time left. We were having good stages. We were having good clean runs through them, carrying speed and making no mistakes. I wasn’t really sure what kind of the pace the other boys would be on so we picked our own pace and managed it from there, and the times spoke for themselves.”

All his good work on the stages was undone however when he received a five minute penalty for missing a tyre marking zone, set up to ensure drivers do not change tyres during a loop of stages.

“There was a fuel stop and we didn’t need fuel and we thought we would skip that, but the tyre marking zone was in the same place,” explained Jon. “It was just a bit of an error from both sides of the car. We probably should have both known to go in. I sort of realised in the middle of the day that there is normally a tyre check and we must have missed it. When we came back into the first service they have to check the markings and there were no stickers on the tyres, so we knew then we were in trouble.”

The penalty sent him plummeting from twelfth overall to thirty eighth, and with the car beginning to develop other problems, Jon decided to withdraw at the overnight halt. “On the way back from the last proper stage on Friday the car started misfiring,” he revealed. “On the two town stages she was messing around a bit and we couldn’t get that solved. The five minute penalty took the wind out of our sails and we didn’t really know what the cause was and we didn’t want to damage anything further.”

There was consolation for Jon as he picked up the Colin McRae Flat Out award for his performances over the day’s opening stages. “Not too many people have won the Colin McRae Flat Out Award and it is a great honour to get it,” he said. “It is a learning year for me, but I’m always trying to be fast anyway. I’m doing the best I can with what knowledge I have.”

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