Milford Haven’s Nick Cristofaro continued his successful 2011 rally season last weekend when he finished 16th overall on the Jim Clark International Rally, a result which moved him into the lead of the Fiesta SportTrophy championship as well as maintaining his fifth place in the British Rally Championship F2 category.
With his rallying budget severely depleted following costly repairs to his car earlier in the year Cristofaro had a tough build-up to the event trying to secure additional support to help him make the start of the Kelso-based rally.
Fortunately he was able to obtain the funds and he lined for the first of six stages on Friday evening, a spectator-packed blast around the streets of Duns. The opening tests saw no car problems for Cristofaro and co-driver Rob Fagg and they finished the night in 21st position.
“I was fortunate to be able to obtain support from Wiseman Dairies and additional support from Pirelli to help me do the event and I’m very grateful to them as well as TEG Sport, Genpower UK, Autoglym, Millers Oils, Nicky Grist, Cut In Edge and Elite Remapping,” commented Cristofaro. “I struggled to find any rhythm on the early Friday night stages, it was the first time I have used the car competitively on tarmac and I had to learn how it would handle. By the end of the evening I had built my confidence up though and I was ready to push hard on day two.”
Changeable weather conditions caught Cristofaro out on the opening stages on Saturday. The car was fitted with wet weather tyres as it was raining heavily as the cars left for the first stage at Polwarth but when the crews arrived at the stage start the road was bone dry. Cristofaro had two slick tyres as spares which he fitted on the front but the wet weather tyres on the rear were overheating in the dry conditions.
“The weather was very changeable, in the space of a few miles we went from heavy rain to blue skies and sunshine. The overheating rear tyres made the car very twitchy and as a result I had a big spin on the second stage on Saturday which saw us land in a hedge.”
“We had a big moment on stage three too when the rear tyres locked under braking and we went straight on into a garden instead of round the corner.”
The crews headed back to Kelso for a service halt with Cristofaro still in 21st position. Replacement brake disks were fitted but on the following two stages it was found they were warped which caused problems when braking from the high speeds reached on the rally.
The disks were replaced again for the final batch of stages but Cristofaro’s earlier tyre choice problems returned on first of those stages. This time he was on slicks and a sudden downpour of rain meant that slicks were not the tyre to be on. Fortunately the remaining stages were dry and he put in some good times, moving up to 16th overall at the rally finish.
“It was a shame to have the spin and overshoot early on, they cost us a fair bit of time but I was pleased with my performance on the later stages and we’ve got a good haul of points for both the BRC F2 and Fiesta SportTrophy championships.”
“I’m particularly pleased to be leading the Fiesta championship as I am beating the new Fiesta R2 cars which are more competitive than my older model. Hopefully we can get some funding together to help us continue the title charge.”
The next BRC round takes place in Ulster in August. Please visit http://www.nickcristofaro.co.uk if you would like to get involved in supporting the team.
Image courtesy of Songasport.