It was a heroic fight to reach the finish line of Rally Chile. Extremely motivated, Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Maciej Szczepaniak started the final leg with a clear goal to move up further the order. Unfortunately, the ORLEN Rally Team crew ran into trouble on the opening stage, puncturing two tyres. However, they refused to give up and tackled the following test on three wheels, completing the stage – but their suspension failed, literally falling apart with finish line almost in sight.
Competing in Rally Chile for the first time, Kajetanowicz and Szczepaniak did a great job right from the beginning and picked up the pace with every stage. After day two, on Saturday, they held fifth position in the WRC2 standings and second among non-factory crews – in the WRC2 Challenger classification, in which they battle for the title.
However, the Polish crew did not intend to take it easy and started the final day with a clear plan to push even more. Unfortunately, two punctures on the first stage meant that they had to start the following test with one damaged tyre. Fourteen kilometres of special stage on gravel – it was a bit too much. First the tyre let go, then wheel rim broke and finally suspension collapsed, after heavy hits on hard road. Despite taking the risk, the Polish crew had to accept the failure, retiring from the rally.
– I feel sorry, we leave Chile empty-handed – and we had a great chance to fight for a podium position. Everything looked promising after the second loop yesterday. Today we started the opening stage in fighting mood, taking just one spare wheel. However, we overshot a corner under braking, punctured two tyres and from that point on it was getting extremely difficult to finish the leg without further problems. And so it happened, our suspension gave up. We were driving with one punctured tyre, then on a bare rim and finally the suspension got damaged so heavily, that it was just impossible to continue. Of course we were fighting and you cannot take this away from us – but this is painful for me, finishing the competition like that. We were second in the WRC2 Challenger standings, with a chance to claim the lead – and this was our strategy, we wanted to fight. This is how it goes, such things happen in competition, in sport. You have to take risks if you want to measure yourself against the best guys in the world. Our season is not finished yet, now it’s time for two tarmac rounds. I will drive this car for the first time on asphalt, after long break in terms of competing on this kind of surface – but of course I am going to do my best. We will try to drive these two rounds as well as possible, fighting right until the end
– Kajetan Kajetanowicz, the ORLEN Rally Team driver, summed up the rally.
There are still two rounds to go in the 2023 World Rally Championship. First, the crews will tackle a new addition to calendar – Central European Rally on 26-29 October, on tarmac special stages in Austria, Germany and Czech Republic. The championship showdown takes place in Japan again, on 11-19 November. The WRC2 competitors are able to score points in no more than seven rounds out of thirteen – so Kajetanowicz and Szczepaniak are in good situation, having started in five rallies so far. They can add to their tally in both rounds.
Starts of Kajetan Kajetanowicz are supported by the title partner of the ORLEN Rally Team – PKN ORLEN, as well as technical partner Delphi Technologies, Pirelli, ATC CARGO S.A., PLATINUM ORLEN OIL brand, QUAZAR LOTOS OIL brand and SJS S.A.