Frustrating day points to future benefits for Hyundai. Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team crews Freddy Loix/Sven Smeets and Armin Schwarz/Manfred Hiemer made steady progress on leg two of Rally Finland to end the day in 10th and 15th positions ...
Frustrating day points to future benefits for Hyundai.
Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team crews Freddy Loix/Sven Smeets and Armin Schwarz/Manfred Hiemer made steady progress on leg two of Rally Finland to end the day in 10th and 15th positions respectively.
The day was once again dominated by the Peugeots who were still driving a rally of their own despite swapping places amongst themselves. Marcus Gronholm was handed the lead as team-mate Richard Burns suffered problems and Harri Rovanpera retired.
In the Hyundai camp, Armin Schwarz and co-driver Manfred Hiemer had a better day after a difficult start on leg one. The pair set competitive stage times throughout the day and ran trouble-free until the final stage, steadily working their way from an overnight position of 18th to 15th.
"The ground was good in the stages and we could attack more. We had no problems with the brakes today so we were pleased with the way the afternoon was going. But in the last stage of the day a spark plug broke so we were down to three cylinders and then we stalled on a sharp junction and lost 15 seconds or so," explained Schwarz. "Running first on the road tomorrow will be hard because the stages will be quite loose and slippery but we will go flat out from the beginning and see what happens."
After setting excellent stage times on leg one, Belgian team-mates Freddy Loix and Sven Smeets found leg two more difficult. The 31-year-old Belgian explained, "It has been a frustrating day especially as we had hoped to attack hard on the stages because it suits my style. First we had brake problems, then handling with the car stepping out in the corners and I just don't think we can fix all the problems for tomorrow. We will go as hard as we can and changes to the rear diff helped a little but now we have to look at getting it all right for New Zealand and Australia."
Finnish favourite Juha Kankkunen saw his rally truncated early in the day when he rolled his Accent WRC" only two kilometres into the opening stage of the day -- unfortunate after he finished on fine form at the end of leg one setting a time better than the Fords of Colin McRae and Markko Martin.
"I was really looking forward to the stages today -- I know them well and I like driving them so it is a real pity," said the three-time Finland winner on his 22nd outing on home turf. "We decided this morning to really go for it -- there's really no point here if you don't try -- and we had to to hold onto our position. The roll happened in the short twisty section and the cars in front had taken different lines which had thrown up gravel. We slid wide and the rear wheel on Juha's side dropped into a deep ditch. It got caught and the car went onto its roof in the middle of the road. The car was driveable but the damage was too great to continue."
News from our rivals
The only other main retirement was Harri Rovanpera (Peugeot) while he was leading the rally. The Finn had to contend with a puncture in SS13 and by the end of the stage his wheel was badly damaged preventing him from continuing, leaving team-mates Marcus Gronholm and Richard Burns to battle it out at the front. Peugeot privateer Sebastien Lindholm broke a driveshaft in SS13 but it only cost him one place dropping him to eighth. Markko Martin (Ford) worked his way from 10th to sixth throughout the day experiencing a front right puncture in SS13. Petter Solberg (Subaru) who chased the Peugeots and was jostling with the Fords all day dropped a position to fifth after spinning on stage 13. The final stage of the day saw Alister McRae (Mitsubishi) stop to extinguish a fire caused by a leaking rear damper and although he managed to change the wheel and continue, almost 20 minutes were lost in the process. Ahead of Solberg in fifth are Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz (both Ford) in! third and fourth respectively and Richard Burns (Peugeot) in second led by team-mate Marcus Gronholm a respectable 1.34 minutes ahead.
The third and final leg of the rally takes crews northwest of the Jyvaskyla Rally HQ base for the remaining 94.36 kilometres of competition before surviving crews reach the finish ramp at 16:20.