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Ralliart Italia Oz13bIt has been a demanding start to Coates Hire Rally Australia for Ralliart Italy and both of its Venezuelan drivers Carlos Garcia Fessman and Alessandro Lombardo in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X cars.

Fessman and co-driver Hugo Magalhaes started the day very well and were feeling comfortable on the Australian roads. However, following lunchtime service, in the second pass through the Bellingen stage, Fessman lost control of the gearbox in his Mitsubishi Evo X. “Unfortunately the gearbox just would no longer work and so we could not finish the stage. Our team came to collect the car and we decided to retire for today and restart under the Rally 2 regulation. I have much faith in the Ralliart Italy service crew and trust they will fix the problem so that we can start Day Two of the rally” he explained.

Fessman is looking forward to the roads on Saturday and the challenge of the 50 kilometre Nambucca stage: ” I feel very comfortable in this kind of stage and will drive full throttle. I am better than the position I am currently in and will work hard to move up in the field and prove it.”

Like Fessman, Lombardo’s day started well. However, during one of the morning’s stages he landed roughly after a jump which caused co-driver Alex Haro back pain due to a long-standing dormant injury. The pair continued through the day conservatively to protect Alex’s injury from worsening and by the afternoon he was feeling much better: “We will stay steady tomorrow so that we don’t hurt Alex again and can keep the good in-car relationship that we have built. Tomorrow we will try to keep the same pace that we held today with the aim of just making it to the finish. We hope that the dust will not be as bad as it was today. However, I do have a great co-driver, so it does not worry me too much,”

Motorsport Italia Team Manager Bruno De Pianto was sorry to see Carlos retire for the day, but encouraged by Lombardo’s sure and steady progress: “It’s always a shame when one of our drivers has a problem at any point in a rally, but we’ve seen Carlos’ progress since he started driving with us in Sardinia and he shouldn’t be discouraged by today’s mishap. After all, that’s rally! Meanwhile, it’s Alejandro’s first WRC event with the team and it’s good to see him making steady tracks through the stages. It’s of course unfortunate that Alex suffered a bit this morning, but we’re all grateful he’s OK now. His pedigree as a co-driver and winner of the 2010 FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship for Co-drivers has been a big benefit to Alejandro so far and I’m sure it will continue to be!”

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