Peugeot leads in Sweden. Peugeot's reigning World Champion Marcus Gronholm leads the Swedish Rally at the end of day one, an event he has already won twice before. The Peugeot driver set three fastest stage times to lead the Subaru of Tommi ...
Peugeot leads in Sweden.
Peugeot's reigning World Champion Marcus Gronholm leads the Swedish Rally at the end of day one, an event he has already won twice before. The Peugeot driver set three fastest stage times to lead the Subaru of Tommi Makinen by exactly half a minute as the crews returned to Karlstad for the overnight halt.
But just a handful of seconds behind Makinen are the other two Peugeots of Richard Burns and Harri Rovanpera in third and fourth. All three Peugeot drivers are determined to ensure the maximum possible score for their team by the end of the rally on Sunday.
Marcus said: "On the first stage this morning I was still a bit sleepy, but on the second stage I woke up! I was able to keep pushing hard during the afternoon, but without taking any stupid risks. There was a lot more snow than I had imagined, so the conditions were very challenging. It would have been quite easy to make a mistake."
Richard Burns was deprived of second place after a small mechanical problem on the third stage, the longest of the rally. But he fought back to set fastest time on the final stage and end the day third, only 3.8 seconds behind Makinen.
Richard said: "It was a pity we had our problem as we could have finished higher up the order. But there is still a long way to go on this rally, and the car has felt very good today. I'm confident we can mount a strong challenge over the next two days."
Burns will have to look out for his team mate Harri Rovanpera, who ends leg one in fourth just 5.2 seconds behind him. Rovanpera drove quickly and consistently, with no incidents other than a spin and a stall on stage three.
Harri said: "I didn't have such a good feeling with the car on the first stage, but after that it got better and better. It was a pity I made that small mistake on stage three but these things can happen when you are trying hard. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, and I'm sure we can improve our position."
Completing Gronholm's happiness was the spectacular performance of his protégé Juuso Pykalisto, who ended the day fifth. The young Finn is driving a customer-specification 206 WRC run by his mentor's own team: Marcus Gronholm Racing.
Tomorrow the first car will leave Karlstad at 0530 for six more snowy special stages, totalling 140 competitive kilometres.