Rovanpera leads for Peugeot. Peugeot driver Harri Rovanpera leads the Rally of Turkey after the opening day, having won three of the leg's five special stages. The Finn overcame rough rocks and rutted roads to hold an advantage of more than 20...
Rovanpera leads for Peugeot.
Peugeot driver Harri Rovanpera leads the Rally of Turkey after the opening day, having won three of the leg's five special stages.
The Finn overcame rough rocks and rutted roads to hold an advantage of more than 20 seconds from Citroen's Carlos Sainz overnight. He used a carefully measured blend of speed and caution to ensure that he finished the rally in front.
"It's been a good day, but I had to be very careful all the time," said Harri. "There are so many big rocks in the road that you can make one small mistake and your rally will be over straight away. I was pushing very hard sometimes, although it is impossible to go 100% all the time on this type of rally. But tomorrow we will push even harder - we have to!"
Richard Burns finished day one sixth, having suffered three punctures on the morning's loop of stages. But he praised Michelin's anti-deflation mousse, which he said allowed him to maintain a reasonable pace. In the afternoon, he had a slight gear selection problem on stage six, but otherwise he was happy with his run.
"The car feels good," he said." This rally is pretty much what I expected it to be: you drive it in the same way that you drive the Rally of Cyprus. I feel quite confident under those conditions and although it might be difficult to win the rally now, the podium is a definite possibility."
Reigning World Champion Marcus Gronholm was not so lucky, enduring a power steering failure five kilometres from the end of SS3. This meant that he had to complete the longest stage of the rally - SS4 - with no power assistance.
Peugeot's mechanics changed the system at service, but the power steering failed again on the road section after the service park. This meant that Gronholm had to survive without power steering for another two stages during the afternoon. He ends the leg a frustrated 19th overall.
"It was a very annoying problem, especially when it happened again," said Marcus. "I've certainly got strong arms now after all that exercise! All we can do now is hope that things go better tomorrow. With the new points system for this year, we might still be able to pick up one or two points."
With Gilles Panizzi's excellent fifth place in a 2002-specification Bozian-run 206 WRC, there are three Peugeots in the top six overnight.
Gilles was delighted with the performance of his car, saying: "The car is very strong and well-suited to this type of rally. I am still learning on gravel, but I think my abilities on loose surfaces are improving all the time."
Juuso Pykalisto was 22nd overall, after rolling his customer-specification Bozian-run 206 WRC during this morning's loop of stages. But the young Finn is hoping for a better day tomorrow, when his car will be fully straightened and ready for action.
Tomorrow is the longest day of the rally, taking in seven special stages. The first car leaves Parc Ferme in Kemer at 0600 and is scheduled to return at 1824. Conditions are expected to be even rougher than they were today, as many of the stages will be used for the second time.