The Ukrainian was on top in the Crimea until a puncture followed by an off-road excursion on Sunday’s second stage dropped him out of contention for first place. The M-Sport Ford Fiesta RRC driver then encountered further bad luck when he broke a steering arm and damaged his suspension, forcing the 28-year-old to finally call it a day.
“For sure, I am disappointed to retire but I am still feeling positive,” explained Protasov, who was driving his Fiesta in competition for the first time. “It was our first time in the Fiesta and I have been happy with our times. Yesterday we had a good day but today we were unlucky on three stages in a row. That is life but I learned a lot – I never expected to come here and win so I cannot allow myself to feel disappointed.”
The all-action IRC resumes on the Mabanol Sliven Rally in Bulgaria from 28-30 September.