Peugeot Sport suffered a shock to the system on the very first stage of the Rally Cyprus: Marcus Gronholm's 307 WRC retired with a broken timing belt while the sister car of Markko Martin was delayed by a puncture half way through the longest...
Peugeot Sport suffered a shock to the system on the very first stage of the Rally Cyprus: Marcus Gronholm's 307 WRC retired with a broken timing belt while the sister car of Markko Martin was delayed by a puncture half way through the longest stage of the rally. But very few crews escaped problems on an opening day of high temperatures and rough surfaces that pushed cars and tyres to the limit. Markko Martin ends the day within striking distance of the podium in fourth position, after climbing back up the leaderboard with a consistent and trouble-free drive.
Marcus Gronholm: "There was nothing I could do. The engine gradually lost power and the water temperature rose steadily for about six or seven kilometres before it died altogether. Before I saw from our screen that we were fastest on the split times, without pushing especially hard. The car and tyres work well in conditions which are quite awful: the first part of the stage reminded me of the Safari in Kenya! I'm obviously very disappointed – I would have liked to have scored some precious points here."
Markko Martin: "Actually today has not been such a surprise to me. As soon as I saw the conditions of the stages in the recce I knew it would be like this. I lost time on the first stage but I thought that if I stayed out of trouble I would get it back. During the afternoon I had no problems at all so I was able to get back up to fourth. I can't say that I have really enjoyed today, as everything here is a bit of a lottery. But if I continue to steer clear of problems then everything is possible. It's that sort of rally."
Jean-Pierre Nicolas: "Marcus's retirement has nothing to do with the reputation of the Rally Cyprus, which is known as being the most punishing event of the championship. He had a 16 second advantage over Sebastien Loeb and 13 over Petter Solberg before going out with a timing belt problem that we have never seen before. We were all expecting a lot from this rally, and I think Marcus would have been perfectly capable of winning. But only a full analysis will reveal the exact cause of his breakdown. As for Markko, he fought back well from three punctures that cost him a minute and a half, to end the day second of the manufacturer entries. Anything can still happen – only 37% of the total distance has been covered!"