Å koda Octavias get off to a flying start in Cyprus Exciting battle in prospect for points positions Surprise rainstorm causes problems on final stage The Å koda Motorsport World Rally Team got off to a flying start in the Cyprus Rally when...
Škoda Octavias get off to a flying start in Cyprus
Exciting battle in prospect for points positions
Surprise rainstorm causes problems on final stage
The Škoda Motorsport World Rally Team got off to a flying start in the Cyprus Rally when Didier Auriol completed the opening stage in third position and Toni Gardemeister was only a few seconds behind in seventh place. Each driver set another top 10 time during the day.
Didier said: "The first stage was not so typical of this rally because it is wide and quite smooth compared to the rest of the event. I was able to drive quickly and I was very pleased to finish the stage in third place." On the second stage his steering wheel was wrenched from his hands and he again hurt the wrist he injured in Argentina. "It was very painful and, for a few kilometres I had to drive left-handed," he added.
Toni had highlighted today's second stage as the roughest of the rally (it is also the longest of the event), especially for the first 15 kilometres, but he lost a minute to the leaders when he suffered a problem with the centre differential pressure.
The slow speeds of this event mean that there is significantly reduced airflow under the cars that, combined with the heat from the exhaust system, led to fuel vaporisation problems on the second stage. The engine began to cut out for the final few kilometres and on the road section both drivers had to stop to let the cars cool before they could make their way back to service.
There was a shock in store for all the competitors as they left service for the start of today's fourth and final stage, a repeat of today's second stage. Instead of the bright sunshine there was news of a heavy rainstorm that brought back memories of last year's rain-affected event.
Didier heard about the rain just before he left service and selected a softer compound tyre. Unfortunately the rain stopped and by the time he reached the stage the road was dry. "I thought that I had made a perfect tyre choice but it turned out to be the worst!" he said.
Toni lost time on the final stage when the fuel vaporisation problems returned although additional heat shielding fitted at lunchtime service reduced the severity of the problem. Toni and Didier lie 13th and 15th respectively tonight.
Škoda Motorsport Team manager Pavel Janeba said this evening: "It was a pity we suffered the fuel vaporisation problems this morning after such a good start on the opening stage. Nevertheless, with just 48 seconds covering 10th place to 15th place tonight there is going to be an exciting battle tomorrow."
Tomorrow's second leg of the rally is the longest of the event. It takes the crews north from Limassol to three stages in the Troodos Mountains before turning west to tackle a pair of stages, each run twice, close to the historic town of Paphos. Stages 7, 8 and 10/12 are all new to the rally. There are a total of 158.35 stage kms scheduled, starting at 0600 and finishing at 1935.