Rob Duggan claimed 6th place among the Junior World Rally Championship runners on last weekend’s Rally Italia Sardinia. His finishing position however, doesn’t quite reflect how successful an event this was for the former Motorsport Ireland Young Rally Driver of the Year.
In his first event with new navigator Tom Woodburn, Duggan set a string of fastest times and ended the event on a high by being the quickest JWRC driver over the final day of the rally. Duggan’s speed however, was curbed by an impact with a rock on Friday while battling for the lead and his attempt to charge back up the leaderboard on Saturday was thwarted by a broken driveshaft. Duggan remains philosophical however and he’s already looking ahead to Rally Poland in just a fortnight’s time. “It was an incredibly tough event. The heat and the terrain were like nothing I’ve ever experienced but we were encouraged by our pace. Obviously it was really disappointing to have to retire on Saturday while in contention for the lead and the time penalty we received for restarting meant we really couldn’t finish much higher than 6th unless people retired but we were delighted to pick up four bonus points for our fastest times over the weekend. Tom did a great job on his first rally with me and at least I know now that I have the pace to compete at this level, I just need to work on my consistency. Poland isn’t far away and by all accounts it’s a real high speed event which should suit my driving style. Keeping out of trouble will be vital as it’s really cost me on the previous rounds. Nil Solans has a healthy lead in the points now but if anything, that means there’s more pressure on him. There are four rounds left and I aim to be in the hunt for all of them.”
After the event, Rob finds himself 6th in the drivers’ standings on 20 points with leader Solans on an impressive 62 points. With a maximum score of 48 points on offer in Poland however, the JWRC title race is far from decided and Rob cites the case of fellow Irish driver Craig Breen when he found himself in similar circumstances during his WRC Academy winning year in 2011. “After two rounds, Craig was 45 points adrift of the series leader. He battled back to clinch the title on the last stage of the last rally, so we aren’t going to throw in the towel.”
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Rob is supported by Rentokil Initial, CB Toolhire, DMACK Tyres, M-Sport and the Team Ireland Foundation.