Peugeot on Top in Australia Peugeot driver Marcus Gronholm ends the first leg of Rally Australia in the lead, while his team mate Harri Rovanpera is in third place. Both Peugeot drivers enjoyed perfect reliability all day, to stamp their ...
Peugeot on Top in Australia
Peugeot driver Marcus Gronholm ends the first leg of Rally Australia in the lead, while his team mate Harri Rovanpera is in third place.
Both Peugeot drivers enjoyed perfect reliability all day, to stamp their authority on the final round of the 2004 World Rally Championship. After an opening spectator superspecial last night today's action consisted of six classic forest stages, followed by two more runs over the superspecial in the evening. The Australian stages are made up of fast and flowing gravel roads, with a unique ball-bearing surface. The stages started off damp in the morning, but progressively dried out throughout the days as temperatures climbed higher.
Marcus reported no problems at all throughout the day, choosing not to make any changes to the set-up of his 307 WRC at service. He won five stages, and ends the leg with a lead of 21 seconds.
He said: "I'm very happy with the way that things have gone today, which is a tribute to all the hard work that the entire team has put into the development of our new 307 WRC. We've been trying to go at a sensible pace all day: pushing quite hard but not taking any stupid risks either. Apart from that there is very little to report -- we just have to try and do the same again tomorrow. Of course it would be fantastic to end the season with a victory, but it is much too early to even start thinking about that."
Harri also had no problems today, apart from an overshoot on SS4 which cost him only 10 seconds. He had a reliable and well-judged run through the afternoon stages, to end the leg with a solid podium place and every chance of improving his position on leg two.
Harri commented: "It's been a very good day. Although I missed the last two rallies I've felt very confident with my car and I have been able to attack. I still think that there is a little more to come and I hope to be able to show that during leg two tomorrow. But it has been important to get the rally off to a good start and we have succeeded in doing that. The car has also been very reliable, so I definitely have a good feeling on a rally I have always liked!"
Tomorrow the crews face 10 more challenging special stages, concluding with two final runs over the superspecial in Perth City. With several stages run consecutively without service, drivers need to be on their guard to avoid making mistakes in the notoriously punishing conditions.