World Class Competition On Opening Leg In Portugal The first leg of the 2005 PT-Rallye de Portugal, this year a candidate event for the 2006 FIA World Rally Championship, saw some exceptional action over the brand new stages to the...
World Class Competition On Opening Leg In Portugal
The first leg of the 2005 PT-Rallye de Portugal, this year a candidate event for the 2006 FIA World Rally Championship, saw some exceptional action over the brand new stages to the north of Faro. Sweden's Daniel Carlsson returns to the rally base, at the Algarve Stadium, as overnight leader, closely followed by Finland's Mikko Hirvonen and Portuguese Rally Championship contender Armindo Araujo in third.
The official start to the event took place in front of thousands of fans at the marina in Vilamoura on Thursday evening (31 March). Tourists, motorsport fans and visiting dignitaries, including rally legend Ari Vatanen, turned out to cheer the crews over the ramp, accompanied by a huge firework display.
But it was Friday morning, April 1, which saw the action begin in earnest. Establishing his credentials immediately was visiting Swede Daniel Carlsson, who claimed victory on each of the three stages that made up the first section. "I had a very good feeling with the car this morning," said Carlsson. "I am trying very hard so far but will need to keep pushing this afternoon, to keep the gap to the cars behind." Hot on Carlsson's heels was Finn Mikko Hirvonen, who, despite having no turbo boost for the first set of stages, kept in touch. "With no boost, we had no power and so lost a lot of time. We pushed very hard in the last of those stages, to try not to lose too much time but hopefully the team can fix the car and we can get closer to Daniel." They did and he left service with a fully functioning car.
Third overall at the end of the first section was local Group N driver, Armindo Araujo, competing in only his second event in the Portuguese works Mitsubishi Lancer EvoVIII. "I'm very happy with my times so far," he commented. "I had a small spin in the first stage but we carried on without any problems." Former World Rally Champions Didier Auriol and Juha Kankkunen reached the first service in fourth and fifth respectively, as they came to terms with a specification of rally car neither had driven before. "I drive fast, for sure, but I like a very aggressive car to be able to really attack," said Auriol. However, both were impressed by the stages in the Algarve hills. "These stages are excellent," said Kankkunen. "The roads are good and they are very well organised. Impressive."
Leading the Super1600 class was FIA Junior World Rally Championship contender Daniel Sordo in the Citroen C2, who enjoyed an early battle with fellow JWRC pilot Kosti Katajamaki in the Suzuki Ignis. "After the water splash in the first stage we had an engine misfire for the rest of the stage," said the Spaniard. "But apart from that, it's going well - I'm enjoying it." His battle with Katajamaki was to be short-lived however, as the Finn went off the road in the third stage, rolled and retired.
Second in S1600 by the first service was Bruno Magalhaes in the works Peugeot 206, closely followed by Pedro Matos Chaves and Jose Pedro Fontes. "It's going very well. I'm pleased to be second in S1600," said Magalhaes. "This morning, I would not have thought it possible." Fellow local S1600 pilot Adruzilo Lopes lost time with a broken gearbox which the team attempted to repair in service but it failed again on the road section to the stages and hence, he retired.
The crews then left service to repeat the stages in the afternoon, with Carlsson taking two more scratch times before returning to the Algarve Stadium and Parc Ferme. "I'm very pleased with today. I have a good lead for tomorrow now and hopefully I can keep it. Stage wins are very nice but it's the rally win that is important. So I must stay focussed and keep Mikko behind me." Chasing him throughout the afternoon was Mikko Hirvonen, who finally found the set-up he wanted, taking the scratch time for the final test. "Well, now we have the car working, at least. I pushed too hard in the middle stage and lost time to Daniel with stupid mistakes. But by the last stage, I figured out how to drive it. He may be too far ahead to catch but I'm not going to give up."
Third place overnight is held by Armindo Araujo, who was happy with his pace in the Mitsubishi Lancer EvoVIII. "I am very pleased to be setting times close to Kankkunen and Auriol. But now I need to look to get points for the Portuguese Championship, as that is my priority." Finn Kankkunen holds fourth at the Parc Ferme while Auriol retired from the event on the fifth stage, having suffered a steering rod failure.
Sixth overall and leading Super1600 contender, Daniel Sordo continued to push hard, as by his own admission, "It's the only way I drive!" Second in S1600 overnight stays with Bruno Magalhaes in the Peugeot 206 S1600 while Pedro Matos Chaves holds third, despite tyre problems which affected most of the runners in the warm afternoon.
The second leg of the event takes the crews slightly further north to faster stages, including the longest of the event, the 31km Almodovar test. The crews leave Parc Ferme at 08.00 hrs and return to the stadium for the finish ramp at 17.45 local time. <pre> Provisional Results, Leg 1 1. Daniel Carlsson, Mattias Andersson Subaru Impreza WRX 1:35:44.3 2. Mikko Hirvonen, Jarmo Lehtinen Subaru Impreza WRX +37.5 3. Armindo Araujo, Miguel Ramalho Mitsubishi Lancer EvoVIII +1:22.5 4. Juha Kankkunen, Juha Repo Subaru Impreza WRX +1:37.2 5. Daniel Sordo, Marc Marti Citroen C2 S1600 +2:32.2 6. Ricardo Teodisio, Paulo Primaz Mitsubishi Lancer EvoVII +3:28.8 7. Bruno Magalhaes, Paulo Grave Peugeot 206 S1600 +3:57.2 8. Pedro Matos Chaves, Nuno Rodrigues Renault Clio S1600 +4:25.2 9. Jose Pedro Fontes, Fernando Prata Renault Clio S1600 +4:35.6 10. Manuel Rueda, Borja Rozada Subaru Impreza WRX +7:06.9