Leg 1: A privately-entered CitroÃ«n C2 on top The drama-filled first day of the 2006 RallyRACC Catalunya has seen the privately-entered, Jipocar Racing-run CitroÃ«n C2 Super 1600 of Czechs Martin Prokop/Jan TomÃ¡nek emerge on top of the ...
Leg 1: A privately-entered Citroën C2 on top
The drama-filled first day of the 2006 RallyRACC Catalunya has seen the privately-entered, Jipocar Racing-run Citroën C2 Super 1600 of Czechs Martin Prokop/Jan Tománek emerge on top of the provisional JWRC standings.
The programme of the first leg, the longest of the rally, featured six stages and close to 140km of against-the-clock action which enabled Kris Meeke and his co-driver Glenn Patterson to take their Citroën-backed, PH Sport-run Citroën C2 into an early lead. Their domination, however, was only to last until the opening kilometres of SS4 when the British crew was stopped in its tracks by a stricken WRC car that blocked its path. "It happened in a very narrow part of the stage with no visibility," relates Kris Meeke. "There was nothing I could do to avoid hitting Latvala 's car which was badly placed on the ideal line." The resulting collision caused significant damage to the rear-left corner of the Ulsterman's car and Kris was forced to limp through the remainder of 'El Montmell 2' on three wheels. In total, the incident cost him close to 5 minutes, time penalties included, a poor reward for his impeccable start to the weekend.
Julien Pressac/Gilles de Turckheim, who are making their JWRC debut this weekend with their C2 S1600, concluded the first day of their apprenticeship with a foot on the provisional podium. "We were a little on the defensive to begin with because the stages were extremely soiled after the WRC cars had been through," says the winner of the 2005 French Citroën C2 Challenge. "I am here to learn and my aim is to be as consistent as possible whatever the conditions we come across." The Frenchman is especially keen to reach Sunday's finish in order to "pick up as many points as possible."
The day of Brice Tirabassi and Jacques-Julien Renucci, who are this weekend making their return to world class rallying, failed to live up to the ir expectations. The troubles faced by the Citroën C2 S1600 crew included a puncture which cost them more than two minutes, while the 2003 JWRC champion suffered from back pains during the latter partt hof the day and was finally unable to show off his true potential, ultimately ending Leg 1 in 8 spot, just ahead of Kris Meeke.
"Kris frankly hit bad luck today," observes Citroën Sport's Customer Competition Manager Yves Matton. "He began the rally at the pace we asked of him, without pushing too hard. Julien got off to a good, even surprising start, while Brice, given the late decision to enter him, didn't get much chance to test the car beforehand and it consequently took him a bit of time to settle in. That said, seeing a privateer on top of the provisional standings driving the Citroën C2 which clinched last year's title in the hands of Dani Sordo says a great deal for the potential and reliability of our customer-run cars," concluded Yves Matton who was unable to conceal his sadness following the death of Germany's Jörg Bastuck, 36. The co-driver of PRT driver Aaron Burkart lost his life this morning in a tragic accident that saw him struck by another car which left the road at the same place he and Aaron had gone off just minutes previously...