Highs and lows for the Red Bull Skoda team on the first day of Wales Rally Great Britain
Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietilainen (FIN) in tenth still have a good chance of scoring WRC points
Andreas Aigner (AUT)/Klaus Wicha (GER) retire on SS 5 after rolling their Fabia WRC twice; no decision yet on a SupeRally restart tomorrow
Ford's Marcus Gronholm (FIN) is in charge ahead of Petter Solberg (Subaru) and Manfred Stohl (Peugeot)
Finland's Harri Rovanpera had a solid and very consistent performance in the early stages of Wales Rally GB. After posting 10th to 13th fastest times, he is classified tenth overall and stands a good chance of getting into a points-paying position over the course of the next two days: "We had a start early this morning that wasn't too bad, but far from perfect. Our tyre choice was the right one, but in the afternoon conditions changed and my compound turned out to be too soft. I also had a spin on the final stage but I was still able to post a top ten time. I will go all-out tomorrow to protect my chance of scoring WRC points."
After Andreas Aigner had been slowed down slightly by a tyre failure and a spin in the morning of the first day following a decent performance, he tried to up the pace a bit in the afternoon to improve upon his twelfth place overall. He managed to do so on SS 4, where he again posted a top ten time in P10 like he did in the Turkish round of the WRC. But an early retirement for the Austrian followed on the very next stage: "I hit a puddle of water in a right-hand bend about eight kilometres from the finish. The Fabia lost its balance, skidded off the road and into a meadow, where unfortunately a tree stump obstructed our path. We hit the obstacle with no more than 40 kph, but the car cleared it and turned over twice. Neither Klaus nor myself got hurt in the incident. The mechanics won't be able to decide whether we'll be able to continue tomorrow by means of SupeRally before later this evening."
The two team bosses Raimund Baumschlager and Armin Schwarz concurred: "Harri performed well today, we hope for further improvement over the next to days. Andreas was driving very optimistically, he then unfortunately had the problem on SS 5. Things like these can happen, now we can just hope that we'll be able to return the Fabia to the starting line tomorrow."
At the top of the standings, Finland's Marcus Gronholm is dominating once again. After his Ford team-mate Mikko Hirvonen had to retire, Petter Solberg (Subaru) is his closest rival with a 25.8 second deficit. Manfred Stohl has another very impressive performance in third, the Peugeot driver was even able to set fastest time on SS 4.