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JWRC: Kosciuszko survives for victory in Argentina

Michal Kosciuszko emerged as the Junior World Rally Championship winner in Argentina after the Suzuki driver managed to run into fewer problems that his two rivals.

Kosciuszko posted the quickest stage time on 14 of the 23 tests at the wheel of his Swift S1600 and took victory by more than a minute despite being forced to utilise SupeRally.

Alessandro Bettega set the fastest time on the opening three stages to establish a 32.3 second lead, but he lost almost seven minutes when the rear left suspension collapsed in the middle of SS4 and he had to drag his Clio S1600 through that and all of SS5, driving 20kms in total. He managed to get his car back to service, and his team mirrored his determination by making repairs and sending him on his way just three minutes late – albeit in third place.

Kosciuszko now found himself in the lead, which leaped to over five minutes when second-placed Aaron Burkart stopped on SS8 after a particularly rough section of road broke the steering rod.

Burkart, making his Rally Argentina debut, had lost time on SS2 when he'd hit a rock and had to drive 5kms on a rear left puncture. In an attempt to regain lost time, he then pushed too hard and kept drifting off the solid rocky line and onto the soft sand, but his challenge for J-WRC honours was to come to an end when he incurred 10 minutes of penalties for missing the final two stages of day one (SS8 and SS9).

But before day one had finished, Bettega was dramatically back in the J-WRC lead. Kosciuszko stopped in SS9 with broken steering, and the resultant ten minutes of penalties dropped him to second and returned Bettega to first place.

Bettega took a careful approach on day two, as Kosciuszko set fastest time on all-but one of the day's eight stages. But on SS16, the alternator belt on Bettega's Clio broke. He wasn't aware of the low battery on the short road section to SS17, and only after he'd booked into the time control at the start of the next stage did the battery warning light come on. Had he been aware of the problem before he'd checked in, he may well have been able to change the belt and continue without lost time, but as it was he could not and was left stranded.

Bettega was forced to miss SS17 and 18, and, not only did his two minute J-WRC lead vanish, but he also dropped to third place.

That left Kosciuszko out front, and the three Juniors ran in the same positions through the final day to conclude one of the more difficult events of the campaign.

As a result of the win, Kosciuszko now leads the JWRC on his own, having shared the lead with Martin Prokop going into the event.


Related Pictures

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Michal Kosciuszko (PL) Maciek Szczepaniak (PL) Suzuki Swift S1600
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