Frustrating day for Skoda Motorsport Armin Schwarz ended the opening day of Rally Mexico -- the third round of the 2005 World Rally Championship - in 12th position as the Å koda Motorsport World Rally Team debuted the new Fabia WRC05. Armin...
Frustrating day for Skoda Motorsport
Armin Schwarz ended the opening day of Rally Mexico -- the third round of the 2005 World Rally Championship - in 12th position as the Škoda Motorsport World Rally Team debuted the new Fabia WRC05. Armin has had no technical problems today but, as this is his first time competing in Mexico he has not yet been able to find full speed on stages that are fast and slippery.
Jani Paasonen's event has proved to be something of a nightmare so far. At yesterday's shakedown stage, he (along with four other leading drivers) damaged the sump of the Fabia WRC05 when he hit a dip in the road on his final run.
As the new rules 'pairing' events mean that the engine would have to complete this rally and also next month's round in New Zealand the team had no choice but to fit a new engine during the afternoon. After setting sixth fastest time on today's opening stage he then crashed out of the opening leg near 100 metres from the end of the second stage, damaging the front end and also the left rear corner of the Fabia WRC05. Under the new 2005 regulations he can rejoin the event tomorrow with a time penalty for every stage missed today.
The rally began in spectacular style last night with the ceremonial start in the historic city of Guanajuato. An estimated 25,000 spectators packed the narrow streets and rooftops to see the drivers amid a traditional fiesta-style Mexican party.
Tomorrow's leg features six stages that are located to the north and east of Leon. No part of the rally route ventures more than 50kms from the host town, making this the most compact event in the WRC. It is the second longest leg of the event with 146.48kms of stages in a total route of just 218.54kms.
Armin Schwarz: "I don't know today's stages too well so I started quite conservatively this morning. The roads were quite slippery with a very fine layer of dust and without gravel crews we don't know exactly where we will find grip. There is nothing wrong with the car -- I just have to improve my confidence."
Jani Paasonen: "I had a really good start to the event with sixth fastest on the opening stage. However the second stage was quite slippery and the car was very nervous. I damaged the left rear corner about 3kms into the stage but the biggest problem came with 8kms to go. There was a fast right into a left hand corner. I took the right too fast and couldn't make the left-hand corner so we went straight off and couldn't get back to the road. It was my fault -- there was nothing wrong with the car at all."
Martin Muehlmeier (Head of Škoda Motorsport): "Today started well for us with Jani's promising time on the first stage but our luck didn't last and that was disappointing. Armin has been a bit too cautious today so he must try to gain his confidence and drive more quickly tomorrow but I am pleased that we have had no technical problems with our new car on its first day of competition."