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Thursday, 06 June 2013 00:00

De Jong wins and leads Dutch championship in MML Sports Lancer

Belgian driver Bob de Jong took a convincing win in this weekend's ELE Rally in Holland at the wheel of his MML Sports-built and prepared Mitsubishi Lancer WRC and in doing so, sits atop the title standings in the national series. He maintained his composure and pace over the two-day event, which saw him triumph against a Ford Focus WRCar and a Citroen C4 WRC to end the event with a winning margin of more than three minutes.

De Jong set out his stall early, winning three of the four stages on Friday evening and was just 0.1seconds off the stage win on the fourth.

The challenge from Erik van Loon faded early, as the Focus driver went off the road, outbraking himself on loose gravel. He managed to get back on to the road, only to slide off into a ditch and effectively, out of the running.

De Jong continued in the same vein on Saturday and now-closest rival, reigning Dutch champion Jeroen Swaanen succumbed to the pressure and hit a tree. The resulting impact broke the Citroen C4 WRC's wheel and his rally was also over. This left de Jong clear at the head of the field, to come home the winner, 3m01.3s ahead of Jasper van den Heuval.

The result means that de Jong holds a lead of 155 points at the top of the Dutch Open Rally Championship tables with 360 points, ahead of Kevin van Deijne on 205.

Over the same weekend, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, the Simpsons Motors Suzuki SX4 WRC, built and prepared by MML Sports was also in action, on the Sol Rally Barbados. Following his win on the previous weekend's King of the Hill event, Neil Armstrong was running as car 1 and hopes were high of a repeat performance.

The event didn't begin well, however, with a misfire on the engine diagnosed as a failing coil pack. This was resolved after the first stage and the crew enjoyed clean runs through the following three tests.

Their biggest problem came later in the day though, as they clipped a chicane and punctured one of the SX4's tyres. They quickly changed the wheel and continued in fourth place, which they subsequently held to the end of the event, despite winning a stage en route to the finish.

The event was won by British driver Paul Bird in a Ford Focus WRCar with locals Jeffrey Panton second and Roger Skeete third.

Commenting on the weekend, MML Sports Managing Director John Easton said; "It's been a good weekend for crews in our cars. Bob had a fantastic event, showing his pace from the very beginning and not only maintaining that pace throughout the event but piling the pressure on the competition and forcing them into making mistakes.

"I am delighted to see, once again, that the MML Sports Mitsubishi Lancer WRC remains extremely competitive against more recent World Rally Cars and congratulate Bob and the team for their achievements.

"Neil and Barry also put in a very good performance, considering the problems they faced on what they have described as one of the toughest local rallies they can remember. I think without the time lost through the puncture, they would have at least been fighting for a podium, which would have been an excellent follow-up to their win on the King of the Hill event the weekend before."

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