Leg 1: Martin Prokop leads the Juniors The Rally Finland got underway with the Killeri superspecial on Thursday night. Martin Prokop was on impressive form to win the 2.06km stage in his C2 Super 1600. Rautenbach was just 1.06s behind, finishing...
Leg 1: Martin Prokop leads the Juniors
The Rally Finland got underway with the Killeri superspecial on Thursday night. Martin Prokop was on impressive form to win the 2.06km stage in his C2 Super 1600. Rautenbach was just 1.06s behind, finishing the stage classified third. Three loops of stages made up Friday's action, totaling 133.49 competitive kilometers'. Martin Prokop continued where he had left off, as he still leads the Junior classification at the end of leg one. Despite struggling slightly during the second pass through the stages in the afternoon, the Czech held his nerve to finish 40 seconds up on his closest rival.
Rautenbach could not find a good rhythm on the final loop of stages, which robbed him of precious seconds as well as third place in the juniors. Aaron Burkart, getting to grips with the very specific demands of Finland for the first time, finished the day in 10th position.
Young Frenchman Yoann Bonato leads the C2-R2 category. The asphalt specialist felt perfectly at home on the fast gravel stages, despite surfaces that seemed to him to be rough or slippery in places. Just behind him, in 14th place, Raphael Auquier decided on caution. He was closely followed by Irishman Shaun Gallagher, who found it quite hard to adapt to some of the stages. The Irishman was 15th and third of the C2-R2 runners at the end of the opening leg. Gilles Schammel lost time in the morning but fought back during the afternoon before being forced into retirement with electrical problems. He will re-start tomorrow under the SupeRally rules. At the end of the chasing pack, the Italian Stefano Benoni also had to retire on the second stage of the day due to a gearbox oil leak.
Raphaël Auquier (BE)
Co-driver Cédric Pirotte (BE)
"We drove carefully all day. We had a small problem with a pressure sensor on the final stage of the opening loop, but we are generally satisfied with our position this evening. We weren't caught out by the fast and difficult parts as we had a good set of notes that allowed us to attack within our limits."
Yoann Bonato (FR)
Co-driver Benjamin Boulloud (FR)
"I'm having a great time! It's really good fun to drive the Citroen C2-R2 on gravel. There are several very fast and slippery sections, and being here is a real pleasure. It was a little bit more difficult in the afternoon. The roads were more cut up after the WRC cars had been through, but we still enjoyed ourselves."
Aaron Burkart (DE)
Co-driver Michael Kölbach (DE)
(Citroën C2 Super 1600)
"The day went well but I can see how difficult these stages are. It's hard to keep the car on the correct line through the fast and long sections and I lost a few seconds trying to get used to that. On the last few stages we had a bit of a clutch problem, but I'm very happy with where we are tonight, at the end of the first leg."
Shaun Gallagher (EI)
Co-driver Clive Jenkins (GB)
The first leg wasn`t at all easy for me. I was quite uncomfortable during those stages. It's very quick with a lot of fast crests and quite rough in places. You have to be constantly on your guard and avoid making mistakes. It's not at all easy, and I found it quite hard to get on top of my C2-R2."
Martin Prokop (CZ)
Co-driver Jan Tománek (CZ)
(Citroën C2 Super 1600)
"I really enjoyed myself here. I struggled to push myself hard during the first loop of stages but during the second loop of stages I was a bit more familiar with the terrain and that helped me a lot. The third loop was a bit more difficult again, but I'm very happy to be first with a 40 second lead over my nearest rival. It gives me a lot of motivation for tomorrow!"
Conrad Rautenbach (ZW)
Co-driver David Senior (GB)
(Citroën C2 Super 1600)
"The stages are very spectacular and very physical. The long and fast jumps mean that you really have to be on top of things. This morning we had a problem with an electrical relay that cost us a few seconds, but that was quickly solved. On the last few stages, I lost a lot of time and a provisional podium place as I could not find the right rhythm. Still, I'm happy to be here and I hope for better things tomorrow!"
Gilles Schammel (LU)
Co-driver Renaud Jamoul (BE)
"The first loop of stages this morning was not at all easy for us. We found some very specialised stages, with quick and slippery sections of road. The second loop was a bit easier. By the end of the day we had a better feeling with our C2-R2. Our objective now is to come back on Gallagher. We're nearly there and we hope to continue our progress tomorrow under the SupeRally system."