Sandell challenges for podium on Rally Finland
After the first day of the Rally Finland, Swedish driver Patrik Sandell is fourth in the Super 2000 World Rally Championship classification at the wheel of his Skoda Fabia.
Finland is the fastest event on the calendar this year, thanks to its flowing roads and spectacular crests, which launch the cars nearly 100 metres through the air. The route is all-gravel, but the smooth surfaces mean that the stages are as fast as motorways.
Sandell, backed by Red Bull, is competing in Finland for the fourth time, giving him plenty of experience of the unique stages. Competitors covered 10 stages on the opening day, totalling more than 140 competitive kilometres. The secret to success in Finland is absolute commitment, which Patrik demonstrated with a string of promising stage times to put himself close to the provisional podium.
Meanwhile, his team mate on this event, Intercontinental Rally Challenge leader Juho Hanninen, had an even better run to claim the provisional lead of the category after the opening day. The Finn, who won the S2000 class with 10th overall on last year's Rally Finland, claimed four stages to lead overnight by 41 seconds. Tomorrow is also the last day of the rally, as it is adopting a two-day format for the first time.
Unfortunately Sandell lost time after a rock broke a brake pipe on SS9, meaning that he could only continue at reduced speed. After the stage he sealed the brake pipe and concentrated on bringing his Skoda safely back to the service park, although he had no front brakes for the final two stages.
"Apart from that I've had a good day but the local Finns have really been flying," said the popular Swede. "Trying to keep up with them is extremely difficult. But I've not been completely confident with the set-up of the car, so we've been making a few small changes. I don't know how we broke the brake pipe but the effect was really dramatic: the car was sideways everywhere at the end! Tomorrow is another very long day, so we will see what that brings."
Hanninen had no problems throughout the day, although he reported a big impact at the front of the car on the penultimate stage. "I've not been taking too many risks today," explained the Finn. "Instead I've just been trying to drive within myself and stay out of trouble. So far it has worked well and I'm very happy with ninth overall, but I'm not counting on anything yet."
Team boss Raimund Baumschlager, who heads up the Baumschlager Rally Racing team, concluded: "Juho has done an excellent job just as we expected, and now he has a good lead. I don't expect the gap to grow much though: I think that from now on he will concentrate on trying to control his advantage over the final day. Patrik has done really well too. It's hard for him against the local guys, particularly after the problem with the brake pipe, but he has defended his position well and he is still able to challenge for a top-three place. If we keep this up tomorrow, this would be a great result not only for our drivers, but also for the entire team and for Red Bull."
-source: red bull