Starters One hundred and two cars began leg one. Route Today's route took crews north east of Trier into the Mosel vineyard region. Leg one consisted of six special stages, totalling 128.6 competitive kilometres. While many of the stages are...
One hundred and two cars began leg one.
Today's route took crews north east of Trier into the Mosel vineyard region. Leg one consisted of six special stages, totalling 128.6 competitive kilometres. While many of the stages are unchanged from previous years, some sections have been re-surfaced, making grip levels unpredictable.
The day started with dry roads and a clear sky, but it became overcast by late morning and at 1300hrs there were heavy rain showers in Trier and on the stages. The roads were drying by the time SS4 was run and the two following stages were mostly dry. The temperature ranged between 13 and 23 degrees celsius.
Sordo (Citroen) H. Solberg (Ford)
Today's first leg of Rally Germany was a mixed affair for the Subaru World Rally Team. The crews of Solberg/Mills and Atkinson/Prevot both produced some excellent performances on the tricky vineyard roads around Trier, but despite stage-winning speed and perfect mechanical reliability, small driving mistakes dropped them both out of the battle for the podium places. On their first asphalt rally with the team, the Impreza WRC2007 of Pons/Amigo lies in seventh place overall.
SS1: 1013HRS RUWERTAL / FELL 1 (19.79KM)
Stage one was a strong start for the Subaru World Rally Team, with Chris
Atkinson finishing fourth fastest and team-mate Petter Solberg just
behind in fifth. Petter said: "To have done that time when there are a
few changes still that we can make, I am very very happy". Running
twelfth on the road, Xevi Pons recorded the eighth fastest time in his
first ever competitive asphalt stage with the Subaru World Rally Team,
despite the stage getting dirtier and trickier with every passing car.
Fastest time: Loeb (Citroen) 11m 04.2s
SS2: 1126HRS GRAFSCHAFT VELDENZ 1 (23.04KM)
The second stage of the leg took crews into the heart of the wine region,
and the narrow asphalt roads that snake through the vineyards. The tricky
conditions brought problems for Chris Atkinson, who lost more than seven
minutes when his car spun off the road at the 19km mark. "I cut a corner
a little too deeply and the car bounced out, spun around and we went off
backwards into a field", said Atkinson. The number eight Impreza was
mechanically undamaged but remained beached until sufficient spectators
had arrived to push it back onto the road. Petter Solberg set the fifth
fastest time, but felt he could have been quicker if he had selected a
harder tyre compound.
Fastest time: Loeb (Citroen) 13m 12.4s
SS3: 1209hrs Schones Moselland 1 (21.47km)
Stage three was the first visit to the trickiest section of the rally,
with the dense vines making it difficult to read the winding and narrow
road. Chris Atkinson was seventh fastest. "Whilst there was no damage
after the spin in SS2, the wheel alignment was a little out as a result
so I had to take it a little easy" he said. Petter meanwhile had another
good stage, finishing fifth fastest to hold fifth overall. Xevi finished
the morning loop eighth overall. After the finish-control crews returned
to Trier for a 30-minute service.
Fastest time: Duval (Citroen) 12m 22.9s
SS4: 1517hrs Ruwertal / Fell 2 (19.79km)
After a dry and bright morning, rain was falling as crews arrived back in
Trier for the midday service. In such changeable weather, teams were
faced with a difficult tyre decision for the afternoon's repeat loop. By
the time SS4 began, the sun was back out and most of the stage had dried
out -- ideal conditions for the cut BFGoodrich slicks chosen by Solberg,
Atkinson and Pons. Despite being a long way down the overall standings,
Atkinson was still out to prove his potential in his Impreza WRC2007and
he set exactly the same time as current championship leader Marcus
Gronholm. Pons was sixth fastest, while Petter Solberg, who reported a
bad tyre vibration, was eighth.
Fastest time: Hirvonen (Ford) 11m 34.2s
SS5: 1630HRS GRAFSCHAFT VELDENZ 2 (23.04KM)
Although the road was mainly dry, the second pass of the longest stage of
the day was still treacherous and the mud and dirt dragged onto the road
on the first pass made some corners as slippery as ice. The new section
added for 2007 was particularly demanding as it is faster and more
flowing than the rest of the stage. With a good tyre choice, Chris was
fifth fastest, only 1.2 seconds from Loeb, while Xevi, still learning the
new car on asphalt, was caught out by the unpredictable grip in the last
kilometre and spun his Impreza. He was quickly back up to speed and set
the tenth fastest time. Petter completed most of the stage with damaged
steering after his car struck a rock a few kilometres from the start,
losing just over half a minute to finish 12th.
Fastest time: Loeb (Citroen) 13m 31.9s
SS6: 1713HRS SCHONES MOSELLAND 2 (21.47KM)
Chris Atkinson rounded off the opening day of competition with a stunning
performance on the last stage. Atkinson was the fastest driver through
the 21km section and took four seconds off Francois Duval's winning time
from earlier in the day, when the stage was run as SS3. "The feeling in
the car is excellent," said Atkinson. "There was no special push in
that stage, I just drove to how the car felt, and that's the time we
got!" Xevi Pons and Petter Solberg completed the stage cleanly, but
Solberg's pace was slowed by the steering damage from the previous
stage. "It wasn't easy to drive in there, but the important thing is we
can fix it now and get back to full strength for tomorrow," he said.
Fastest time: Atkinson (Subaru) 12m 18.5s
Richard Taylor, Subaru World Rally Team managing director:
"It's been a day of mixed fortunes for our team. We're really pleased with the pace of all three cars on the asphalt, but the positions we hold at the end of the day don't truly reflect the performance and potential we've shown. Both Chris and Petter would have been comfortably in the top five, but they both paid heavily for small mistakes. After he went off on the second stage, Chris has done a great job this afternoon, running very strongly at the front of the field, and the fastest time on the last stage was well deserved. Petter's day started extremely well, but the steering damage caused by the rock on SS4 dropped him to the lower end of the top-ten. Apart from a couple of spins and a faulty handbrake, Xevi has had a good day. Overall we can be pleased with the pace that we've shown. It's encouraging for the rest of the weekend."
"Our pace this morning was very good and the car was handling well. It is very good on asphalt; a completely different car. Unfortunately I came into a hairpin during SS5 and hit a rock with the inside wheel which damaged the steering. There was nothing we could do to fix it until we returned to service and it was very difficult to drive, so that meant we lost time in the last two stages which are the longest of the day".
"The car felt good today. I'm building my confidence back up; at the start of the day I didn't feel 100 per cent right, but by the end it's a great feeling to finish the final stage fastest. We've had awesome pace today and for that reason being fastest doesn't come as a big surprise, it's just a shame that I made a mistake, and I'm sorry for the whole team. I really think we could have been fighting for a podium here. It's very encouraging for us and shows how quick we can be on asphalt".
"Today was overall a good day as there were times when we really showed our pace. It was difficult day as it was my first competitive outing on asphalt with the team, and the stages here are tricky. We've had a little understeer which made building confidence tricky, but it is great to have recorded the fastest second split time on SS4, and I feel encouraged for tomorrow".
Leg two preview
Tomorrow's leg is the longest of the rally and includes the roads of the Baumholder military ranges. With four individual stages, each run twice, the competitors will cover 164.86 competitive kilometres of the rough and unforgiving route, the dirty asphalt making grip tricky to judge. With trees and huge concrete blocks lining the route, concentration and confidence need to be at their peak.