Fourth Place for Armstrong at Season Opener(May 24, 2016)
The 2016 Vodafone Rally de Portugal was the home for round one of the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy, which would include a strong field of ten drivers hoping to make their mark on the World Rally Championship.
Jon Armstrong from Fermanagh, Northern Ireland and Noel 0’Sullivan Jnr from Killarney, Ireland, started the event as one of the rookie crews competing in the series. Jon, last year’s Drive DMACK shootout winner came to the event having only ever competed on one WRC event before which was RACC Rally Spain at the end of 2015.
The event got off to the worse possible start for the young pairing as a turbo pipe blew of just 5km into the first proper stage, loosing best part of eight and half minutes. The rest of day one seen Jon and Noel setting some encouraging stage times but a puncture on stage six and an overheating issue on stage nine dropped them further back the field.
Day two would see a more positive outcome, with a string of top 3 times and coming close to being fastest on the 37km’s of Amarante both times, Jon and Noel showed their true pace as they began to come to grips with the new M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2T. They ended day two in fifth place with just four stages to complete on day three.
Armstrong continued his fight back on the opening stage of day three, just one second of the fastest DDFT crew. Another quick time through the famous Fafe stage saw Jon and Noel close the gap ahead even further. The penultimate would be the first fastest stage time recorded for the pair in the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy as they took the stage win by 12.7 seconds ahead of Pryce. However another second fastest time on the last stage wouldn’t be enough to get a podium place, they finished the rally 23 seconds behind third.
It was a great result considering the problems they had faced, the determination to carry on setting great stage times paid off and it is a positive start to their championship campaign.
The Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy heads to Rally Poland on 1- 3. 7. 2016 with 314km of fast gravel stages.