Xevi Pons and Carlos Del Barrio have held their own throughout an extremely difficult opening leg. The Spanish Kronos Total Citroen crew are in a provisional third place overall : a position they hope to defend to the end of the rally. The...
Xevi Pons and Carlos Del Barrio have held their own throughout an extremely difficult opening leg. The Spanish Kronos Total Citroen crew are in a provisional third place overall : a position they hope to defend to the end of the rally.
The drivers knew that they were starting the leg with the most difficult stages of the day : two runs each through Murray North and South. These roads situated about 100 kilometres to the south of Perth have a fearsome reputation. They combine the three riskiest elements of Rally Australia : high speed (nearly a 110kph average despite several junctions), narrow roads (with trees close by), and last but not least, a thick coating of marble-like stones...
The pitfalls are well-known, but the Murray stages still claimed several high- profile victims, slashing the World Rally Car field. The only driver who stopped on these stages through no fault of his own was Dani Sordo, who was forced onto the sidelines with a gearbox problem. Dani could only sit and watch as he clocked up a penalty of five minutes for every stage missed, in accordance with the superally rules. This means that he will start leg two with a 40 minute gap to the leader, in the hope of making up enough ground to score some manufacturer points.
Xevi Pons and Carlos Del Barrio managed to find the right rhythm to survive this difficult day, without succumbing to the temptation to push too hard. "I think we can be happy, " said the Spaniard. " With a perfect Xsara and the right tyre choice [BFGoodrich medium/soft compound] I forced myself to stay concentrated and follow the right line. It might not be the most fun way to drive, but it's essential in order to stay off the `marbles'. Everything was going well until the final forest stage, Flynns. There, with the sunset in our eyes, we lost a lot of time in the dust from the cars ahead. In some sections we were driving blind. "
"In any case we are still third, " concluded Xevi. " Tomorrow's stages in the Bunnings complex are wider so they are easier and a lot more fun to drive. I'm going to try to stick to the pace we had today and avoid making mistakes. I had a good feeling after Cyprus and my confidence grew even more after the Rally of Turkey. Thanks to all that, I hope to carry tonight's objective through to the end of the rally: holding onto third place. "
-credit: kronos racing