Marco Tempestini leads into Day2 of Novorossiysk Rally of Russia

Marco Tempestini leads "Novorossiysk Rally of Russia 2009", the final round of the East European Rally Cup, after the first day of action. The Italian, competing under Romanian license, started the rally with a rather cautious approach, disturbed by some smoke inside the cockpit of his Peugeot 207 S2000, but still managed to keep within a few seconds of the leading crew of Alexander Zheludov and to win one stage against him, and after the Russian's retirement Marco won two more stages to secure his position at the top of the standings.

The day saw some positive surprises. First of all, it should be mentioned that Sergey Uspenskiy hasn't lost any of his talent since he last drove in competing field at a snow event in March. The multiple Russian motorsport champion posted two top-3 results in a row at the day's beginning, but unfortunately had to retire because of the broken engine. After Uspenskiy's and Zheludov's retirement it was Vadim Makarov's time to shine. The newly- crowned European autocross champion had been putting in an excellent performance on his debut in Novorossiysk when his charge also ended with a mechanical problem on SS6.

So it is young driver Alexander Nebogatikov, who now keeps 2nd place overall, two and a half minutes behind the rally leader. He's been in rallying for just two years, and it's his first season in a 4-wheel drive car, but his raw speed and high determination make sure he's doing great progress throughout the event. He's been constantly improving his pace, and is now in contention to finish the rally as the highest-placed Russian driver.

The front-wheel drive category was dominated by Igor Storchak from Ukraine, competing for the Tsunami Rally Team (owned by Irina Kolomeitseva, Zheludov's co-driver). He didn't put a foot (or should we say wheel) wrong for all 6 stages and finished the day 7th overall and almost 3 minutes ahead of his nearest rival Evgeniy Rogov. Rogov's second position, however, is under threat from another R2 representative Dmitriy Voronov, who's just 8.5 seconds behind.

Tomorrow the crews will have to tackle 53.60 kilometres of 4 special stages without any service, and just a refuel between SS9 and SS10. It will provide an additional challenge to the tough and demanding nature of the event, and even big gaps won't guarantee their holders an easy life on Sunday.

Marco Tempestini, Position 1st: "We drove fast, but not too much as we were trying to preserve the car. We must think strategically, and the most important thing for us is to win the East European Rally Cup". Marco's current position at the top of the standings guarantees it will be enough for the Italian to finish Sunday in second place to wrap up the title.

-credit: rally-russia.com