AARON Johnston and Oliver Solberg endured a mixed weekend at Rally Italia Sardegna where they produced blistering times and fastest stage results but they left with little reward following a puncture and a slight misjudgement that ended their WRC3 challenge.
The young duo had suffered a disappointing outing in Portugal during the latest round of the European Rally Championship a week earlier when a big off during shakedown, a poor tyre choice and a blown turbo meant they were denied the chance to challenge for victory in their Volkswagen Polo R5.
They had hoped to get back on track in Italy behind the wheel of the Skoda Motorsport Fabia Rally2 Evo in the World Rally Championship but after setting a sensational first stage time that equalled some of the top WRC competitors, they again saw lady luck turn her back upon them.
Another puncture saw their lead evaporate before an innocuous incident on stage 12 brought their challenge to a premature end.
“We were having a great run, we were very happy with everything,” explained Fintona co-driver Johnston. “We were in control, then unfortunately on day two we got the puncture through no fault of anybody.
“The tyre just delaminated and that essentially cost us the rally because we went into the next two stage and we had the candle lit at both ends and unfortunately we got burnt!
“We slid marginally wide on a tight left and we got beached on a bank. The front wheels were teetering off the ground and the back wheels were up in the air, so that was all that happened.”
FULL STORY IN LAST THURSDAY’S ULSTER HERALD