Successful beginning for Franz Wittmann/Bernhard Ettel at the Rally Russia
The Interwetten Racing Team is in seventh place after the first day and therefore within points range
At the "Rally Russia" around Vyborg (approx. 150 kilometres west of St. Petersburg) everything is almost going to plan for Franz Wittmann and Bernhard Ettel. After the first day (four special stages) the Interwetten Racing Team established itself soundly within points range. Seventh intermediate place also means that the Austrian duo in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX is classified as best non-S2000-team, too. The armada of the Russian Mitsubishi local heroes was superiorly outdistanced.
This even despite a short moment of shock. On the third special stage Wittmann encountered a left front tyre damage five kilometres before the finishing line. The Interwetten Racing driver managed to finish the stage but lost almost 30 seconds. Shortly after exchanging the tyre one noticed that there also was a slow puncture rear left. Thus this tyre also had to be changed which caused Wittmann to arrive five seconds late for the start of SS 4. This, in turn, led to the awarding of a ten seconds penalty.
"We started out with a good speed which nevertheless leaves room for more. We are the only team in the top ten that has never competed here before. That's why we still have to get accustomed to the stages. But it is working out fine so far. Talking about our tyre damages - well, we got away with a black eye, not in the least because we took two spare tyres along in wise foresight. Otherwise the rally would have ended for us already. But the lead by over one minute on eighth place is rather reassuring", explained Wittmann at the finish of leg one.
On Friday six special stages with 117,40 kilometres overall are scheduled. Among those is the "royal" stage "Topolki" with a length of 29,31 kilometres which will be completed twice. Wittmann: "This one could bring on a premature decision. It really has Safari Rally level. The one to get trough it without tyre damage has a good hand for a top place in the overall result."