29 Oct Essex rally driver Nabila Tejpar says she is “as ready as she will ever be” for championship finale
Essex rally driver Nabila Tejpar says she is “as ready as she will ever be” for the FIA European Rally Championship Ladies Trophy finale in Hungary next month, after enjoying a positive outing at last weekend’s FIA World Rally Championship, RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada (24-27 October).
Tejpar has been contesting a mixed bag of championships and one-off events during 2019 but her performances in the European Championship has meant she is in with a chance of scooping the coveted title on the final round.
However, Tejpar has also embarked on a part-campaign in the Peugeot Iberica Cup and selected World Rally Championship events with the Salou based event providing the perfect warm-up to her title campaign. Along with co-driver Hugo Magalhaes, the duo overcame a slow opening day to secure a solid finish in their Peugeot 208 R2.
After being unable to start her home WRC round earlier this month due to co-driver illness, Spain would be the Maldon driver’s first top-level outing since June thanks to the focus on her ERC assault. Eager to experience as much of the overseas stages as possible, Tejpar entered the Iberica Cup for the event, but would also continue for the remaining two legs after the Cup declared their results at the end of the opening leg.
With torrential rain and flooding in the region on the run-up to the event, the opening day of the rally would be one of the toughest of the weekend. RallyRACC is unique in that the gruelling itinerary features both gravel and asphalt surfaces during each leg with Friday’s leg offering the mountainous gravel stages to kick start the event.
Sadly, Tejpar would find it tough to acclimatise to the rough gravel roads and found the going difficult over each one of the six stages that day, the longest of the rally at just under 130 kilometres of competitive driving.
Thankfully legs two and three switched to asphalt and the super smooth cliff side roads in the region offered a great leveller. Tejpar immediately felt at home on the asphalt and as her confidence grew, the times tumbled.
Using Magalhaes’ knowledge of the stages, Tejpar settled into a comfortable rhythm throughout the remainder of the event, crossing the finish ramp on Sunday afternoon in 11th in class from a healthy field.
“It’s a real shame I didn’t find a good pace on Friday as that lost me a lot of time over the weekend really, but yesterday and today’s stages on the Tarmac more than made up for that,” said Tejpar at the finish.
“It really felt like a whole new rally on Saturday morning and everything just seemed to click. The pace improved almost immediately, and I could relax a little in the process which meant I really enjoyed the stages. As ever, Spain is a tough rally, but I’m really pleased with my performance on the asphalt this weekend”
Tejpar will now focus on the final round of the FIA ERC which is coming up in a few weeks’ time.
“I think I’m as ready as I’ll ever be for Hungary now,” she said. “Of course, it’s an important rally for the title but I feel a little more relaxed heading there after this weekend thanks to the feeling on the asphalt. Hungary will be a new rally for me but having confidence going into new events is important. I`m looking forward to seeing what it brings”.
Rally Hungary takes place on 8/10 November and offers over 212 kilometres of competitive action from the Nyíregyháza rally base.