RALLY RUSSIA Leg 1 Thursday July 10, 2008 Neighbourly greetings from Hanninen (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) Juho Hanninen was clearly well inspired when he decided to make the trip across the border to try his luck on the Russia Rally, round...
Thursday July 10, 2008
Neighbourly greetings from Hanninen (Peugeot/BFGoodrich)
Juho Hanninen was clearly well inspired when he decided to make the trip across the border to try his luck on the Russia Rally, round four of this year's Intercontinental Rally Challenge. Driving a Kronos- prepared Peugeot 207 S2000, the Finn hit the ground running to pull out an early advantage over Italy's Giandomenico Basso (Abarth Punto S2000/BFGoodrich) and Czech Republic driver Jan Kopecky (Peugeot 207 S2000/BFGoodrich).
Having chosen to include the 2008 Russia Rally in his programme with a view to sampling the combined pleasures of the IRC and the Peugeot 207 S2000/BFGoodrich, Finland's Juho Hanninen got his weekend off to a flying start and lost no time building up a handsome cushion at the top of the leaderboard at the end of Leg 1. A score of three fastest times over the day's four tests saw him pull 21.5 seconds clear of Giandomenico Basso (Abarth Punto S2000/BFGoodrich) after a little more than 50km of competition.
True, the Finns were widely expected to be in their element in the Vyborg region which is practically within a stone's throw of the homeland of the celebrated '1000 Lakes Rally'. Yet although Hanninen and his compatriot Anton Alen (7th, Abarth/BFGoodrich) were in dominating form over the morning's loop of two stages, the terrain actually bore little similarity with the Flying Finns' national high-speed rollercoaster ride. Instead, competitors faced a cocktail of narrow, technically challenging and, above all, quite rough gravel roads.
On top of that, the rain that fell prior to the start made the conditions fairly damp and BFGoodrich's partners didn't hesitate to fit the new g-Force Gravel Z4 which is available to them for the very first time this weekend in Russia. This new tyre proved particularly competitive and, indeed, the American brand monopolises the overnight podium, since Jan Kopecky joins Hanninen and Basso in the provisional top three, while Alen was delayed by the two punctures he picked up in the course of the afternoon.
Russia's Evgeny Novikov (4th, Subaru) is currently the best-placed local driver, closely tailed by Team Peugeot Belux's Nicolas Vouilloz and Freddy Loix (207 S2000/BFGoodrich) who follow in fifth and sixth places. The Frenchman admits to having had a little trouble acclimatising to the terrain, while his Belgian sparring partner - winner two weeks ago on home ground in Ypres - had the pleasure of claiming the fastest time on SS3.
Provisional positions after Leg 1:
1, Hanninen/Markkula (Peugeot 207 S2000/BFGoodrich), 28m 30.2s
2, Basso/Dotta (Abarth Grande Punto S2000), +21.5s
3, Kopecky/Stary (Peugeot 207 S2000/BFGoodrich) +28.6s
4, Novikov/Moscatt (Subaru), +37.3s
5, Vouilloz/Klinger (Peugeot 207 S2000/BFGoodrich), +38.0s