Bruno Thiry is the overnight leader after the first day of The 38th Rallye Antibes-Azur, the final co-efficient 20 round of the 2003 FIA European Rally Championship. He won all four of the opening days stages and ended with a 19.7sec advantage...
Bruno Thiry is the overnight leader after the first day of The 38th Rallye Antibes-Azur, the final co-efficient 20 round of the 2003 FIA European Rally Championship. He won all four of the opening days stages and ended with a 19.7sec advantage over Miguel Campos.
In warm sunshine and with a clear blue sky overhead, the 55 teams set off from the promenade in Antibes. Ahead of them were 4 stages totaling 78.38 km - Col de Bleine and Roquesteron which they should drive twice.
Miguel Campos, who was just getting over a cold, did not make the perfect start. He stalled at the beginning of Stage 1, took a while to get going and lost 14.7secs to Thiry on the tricky stage, which had melting snow and slush over the last few kilometers.
Thiry also won the shorter Stage 2, but this time the margin was only 1.6secs as Campos increased the pace. Philippe Mermet was third with Vaclav Pech, the Czech Champion 4th.
When they set out for the second circuit, it was beginning to get dark. Campos was able to complete Stage 3 without lights, but he was the only one able to do so. Thiry also won this stage, but the margin between him and his Portuguese rival was only 1.5secs. Mermet developed mechanical problems and retired after this stage.
The final stage of the day also went to Thiry, adding another 1.9secs to his lead over Campos. Pech ended the day third, 2min.55.3sec down, with Robert Butor from Hungary 4th in his Citroen Saxo VTS.
"It is my first time here and I will be happy if Thiry`s lead is less than 30 secs," said a relaxed Campos after the second stage. "It is an extremely long rally and anything can still happen," he added.
"Nineteen seconds is nothing", shrugged Thiry. "You can loose a lot more than that with a moments lack of concentration--or a puncture". But he is clearly happy to have won all of the opening stages without mishap and take a useful advantage into Day 2, which consists of 4 stages which they also drive twice and totalling 156.44 km.
38th Rallye Antibes-Azur
Result after Day 1
1. Bruno Thiry (B) 52min 17.6secs
2. Miguel Campos (P) 52min 37.3secs
3. Vaclav Pech (Cz) 55min 12.9secs
4. Robert Butor (H) 56min 42.1secs