Vouilloz (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) ends day 1 in front The 2007 IRC runner-up Nicolas Vouilloz completed the opening day of this weekend's Rali Vinho Madeira on top of the provisional leaderboard ahead of local hero Alexandre Camacho ...
Vouilloz (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) ends day 1 in front
The 2007 IRC runner-up Nicolas Vouilloz completed the opening day of this weekend's Rali Vinho Madeira on top of the provisional leaderboard ahead of local hero Alexandre Camacho (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) and the two-time European Champion Renato Travaglia (Abarth/BFGoodrich), while Portugal's Bruno Magalhaes (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) dominated until the penultimate stage. BFGoodrich drivers monopolise the overnight top-ten after running the hard compound g-Force Profiler A10.
The anticipated clash between the Intercontinental Rally Challenge's front -runners, the leading European Championship campaigners and the ever-quick Portuguese drivers was always going to be fierce over the roads of Madeira; it turned out to be volcanic!
Halfway into the day, the top-five were covered by less than 10 seconds. Nicolas Vouilloz (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) - who currently shares the provisional IRC lead but who has yet to win an event this year - kicked off the event with the fastest time over the super-special in Funchal, but serious business started today with a programme of no less than 12 stages set to the dramatic backdrop of the mountainous Atlantic island.
When action resumed this morning, the Madeira specialists soon took over, with Italy's Giandomenico Basso (Abarth/BFGoodrich) - winner here in 2006 and 2007 - emerging in front before handing over to Portuguese Rally Championship pacesetter Bruno Magalhaes (Peugeot 207 S2000/BFGoodrich) - second on the island in 2007 - after SS3. The works Abarth driver recovered top spot after SS4, but Magalhaes regained the advantage on the following test although he eventually fell back after picking up a puncture, due to heavy knock, on the day's ultimate test (SS12).
A certain number of forecasters had predicted the possibility of showers over the higher ground and Giandomenico Basso opted for soft compound g-Force Profiler A03 tyres for the day's firstfour stages, while his principal rivals chose the hard compound g-Force Profiler A10. The Italian driver led briefly but fell back to fifth overall as crews returned to the Funchal service park for the first time after the long opening loop. The European Champion nonetheless succeeded in fighting his way back up to fourth place this evening, 8.8s behind his compatriot Renato Travaglia (3rd, Abarth/BFGoodrich) who put in an excellent run despite feeling poorly.
The Rali Vinho Madeira calls for a combination of speed on asphalt and local knowledge, so it came as no surprise to see Nicolas Vouilloz emerge in front, nor to see Madeira-based Alexandre Camacho (Peugeot 207 S2000/BFGoodrich) complete the day in second position, a mere 3.7 seconds adrift of the Frenchman. The current joint IRC leader Luca Rossetti suffered contrasting fortunes over the technically challenging mountain roads, however, and failed to play a part in the scrap for top spot. The Italian Peugeot/BFGoodrich driver figures in sixth place this evening, 1.1 seconds behind Freddy Loix (Peugeot/BFGoodrich), but 40 seconds behind Vouilloz--
Patrick Letort (Chief Technician, BFGoodrich):
"The asphalt here isn't all that hard-wearing in itself. However, with ground temperatures of up to 30o.C, the frequent call for hard acceleration out of the corners and repeated heavy downhill braking mean that the drivers are forced to run the hard compound g-Force Profiler A10. Not many drivers ran this tyre in Belgium and Giandomenico Basso gambled on the soft compound g-Force Profiler A03 to begin with, but the first four stages were entirely dry. Bruno Magalhaes punctured on SS12 and was forced to stop to change wheels. We have inspected the offending tyre and his puncture was due to a heavy knock."
Nicolas Vouilloz (1st, Peugeot/BFGoodrich):
"It was a good day for me. The Rali Vinho Madeira's twisty stages include some very long corners, so it's important to find a set-up that is easy on the front tyres. You need to be careful that they don't get too hot, though, and end up producing understeer."