Hanninen (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) in control After emerging on top in Russia at the end of Day 1, Juho Hanninen profited from today's drama-packed second leg to extend his advantage at the top of the leaderboard. Russia's Novikov (2nd, ...
Hanninen (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) in control
After emerging on top in Russia at the end of Day 1, Juho Hanninen profited from today's drama-packed second leg to extend his advantage at the top of the leaderboard. Russia's Novikov (2nd, Subaru/BFGoodrich) has eased into second spot, while Finnish driver Anton Alen (3rd, Abarth/BFGoodrich) has managed to fight his way back on to the provisional podium. All the BFGoodrich runners used the new g-Force Gravel Z4 tyre.
Juho Hanninen's first taste of the IRC has seen the Finn deliver a mature, surefooted run so far at the wheel of his BFGoodrich-equipped Peugeot 207 S2000. Today's long leg, which featured some 112km of against -the-clock action over rough and narrow gravel roads, once again saw him firmly in control with a score of three fastest stage times from a possible four.
Hanninen is this evening more than a minute clear of his Russian rival in the PWRC, Evgeny Novikov (Subaru/BFGoodrich), and he is almost two minutes ahead of Anton Alen (Abarth/BFGoodrich).
Evgeny Novikov is the surprise leader of the 2008 Russian Rally Championships after four rounds and he also caused something of a stir on last year's Rally Russia by matching the speed of the top IRC runners despite his tender age of 17! Today saw him put in a particularly assertive performance over the long Topolki stage (29km) to move up the order to second overall, but the Czech Republic's Jan Kopecky (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) fell from overnight second after losing four minutes because of a puncture.
"Jan hit a rock coming out of a corner," relates Chief BFGoodrich Technician Patrick Letort. He couldn't miss it and a puncture was inevitable. Even so, the performance of the new reinforced g-Force Gravel Z4 over today's extremely rough tests has been particularly satisfying. There is worse to come tomorrow, though. Notably SS10 which starts along a river bed."
After picking up two punctures on Thursday (a slow puncture on SS3 and an impact against a rock on SS4), last year's winner Anton Alen finished the opening leg down in seventh position, more than a minute behind the leader. At the wheel of his Abarth Grande Punto/BFGoodrich, however, he succeeded in putting in a quick, consistent run today to recover third place, ahead of his Italian team-mate Giandomenico Basso.
Peugeot Belux drivers Freddy Loix and Nicolas Vouilloz are fifth and sixth respectively after trading positions in the course of the day. The second leg wasn't a happy one for the 1994 World Champion Didier Auriol (Abarth/BFGoodrich) who profited from the SupeRally ruling to re-start this morning after being sidelined with suspension failure yesterday afternoon. Today saw the Frenchman 'retire' a second time, on this occasion following differential trouble and a problem with his brakes.
Provisional positions at the end of Leg 2:
1, Hanninen/Markkula (Peugeot 207 S2000/BFGoodrich), 28m 30.2s
2, Novikov/Moscatt (Subaru/BFGoodrich), +1m 1.0s
3, Alen/Alanne (Abarth Grande Punto S2000/BFGoodrich), +1m 54.1s
4, Basso/Dotta (Abarth Grande Punto S2000/BFGoodrich), + 2m 27.4s
5, Loix/Buysmans (Peugeot 207 S2000/BFGoodrich), +2m 51.9s