FINLAND'S HANNINEN WINS FOR PEUGEOT The 2008 Rally Russia was dominated in no uncertain fashion by Finland's Juho Hanninen who led from flag to flag despite this being his first outing with the Kronos-prepared Peugeot 207 Super 2000. Nicolas ...
FINLAND'S HANNINEN WINS FOR PEUGEOT
The 2008 Rally Russia was dominated in no uncertain fashion by Finland's Juho Hanninen who led from flag to flag despite this being his first outing with the Kronos-prepared Peugeot 207 Super 2000. Nicolas Vouilloz finished fifth to go level at the top of the provisional IRC Drivers' standings with another Peugeot driver, Luca Rossetti, who didn't make the trip to Russia.
Pre-event rain made the conditions extremely challenging for competitors on the 2008 Rally Russia who faced a cocktail of sandy, rock-littered roads which led to a spate of punctures. With the exception of a 60km test run prior to the start, this was only Juho Hanninen's first drive with the 207 Super 2000, yet that didn't prevent the Finnish driver from claiming three fastest times from a possible four on the opening leg. He ended the day more than 21 seconds clear of Italy's Giandomenico Basso, while the 2007 winner and a favourite once again this time round Anton Alen lost a minute following a puncture. The two Peugeot Belgium-Luxemburg drivers were fourth and fifth.
The second day's action produced plenty of drama, with Nicolas Vouilloz notably losing time when a small fire broke out in his car at the end of the afternoon: "A fire broke out inside the car shortly after the start of the final stage. It was caused by a broken exhaust manifold. Fortunately, my co-driver managed to grab the onboard extinguisher and put it out. I preferred to lift to make sure the fire didn't flare up again, and also because the incident resulted in my co-driver Nicolas Klinger losing his place in his notes, but we were able to continue."
It wasn't an entirely trouble-free day for Vouilloz's Peugeot Belgium-Luxemburg team-mate either: "This really is a tough event," reported Freddy Loix. "I didn't dare push at all today. Through the rougher portions I was at maybe half the speed I could have gone, yet I still punctured!"
Before the start of the Russian round, the two Team Peugeot Belux drivers had received clear instructions to reach the finish at all costs, and in the points, too, to consolidate their position in the IRC standings. It was a case of mission accomplished since Vouilloz took his score to 26 points to go equal top with Italy's Luca Rossetti, while Freddy Loix has edged closer on 16 points.