Day 1: Martin Prokop leads in his C2 S1600 The Rally d'Italia-Sardegna, which has been a regular fixture of the Junior World Rally Championship since 2004, saw a thrilling first day of action amongst the Junior competitors. At the end of 131.56...
Day 1: Martin Prokop leads in his C2 S1600
The Rally d'Italia-Sardegna, which has been a regular fixture of the Junior World Rally Championship since 2004, saw a thrilling first day of action amongst the Junior competitors. At the end of 131.56 competitive kilometres, Martin Prokop's Citroen C2 Super 1600 leads both the C2 Junior Experience and the overall Junior classification. Nonetheless, the Czech driver cannot relax as his closest rival is just 3.7 seconds behind him.
The other Citroen C2 Super 1600 drivers have not been quite so fortunate, with Shaun Gallagher and Aaron Burkart finishing seventh and eighth overall, while Sebastien Ogier who currently leads the Junior World Rally Championship was forced to retire from the opening leg.
The Frenchman, who experienced some differential problems during the morning, picked up a puncture when he had to negotiate his way past a World Rally Car that had crashed on SS4. Unfortunately, this puncture meant that he went off later in the stage and damaged the steering of his C2. He plans to be back tomorrow under the SupeRally system in order to try and score some points.
Hans Weijs is 10th overall in his Citroen C2-R2 MAX (and fourth in the C2 Junior Experience) while the similar car of Francesco Fanari retired on the third stage of the day with a broken rear axle.
Martin Prokop (CZ) Jan Tomanek (CZ) (Citroen C2 Super 1600)
"It's been a very exciting battle but not such an easy day. In the morning we had a problem with the power steering, which was inconsistent from corner to corner, so it was hard to predict what the car would do. It started at the end of SS2, and we partially fixed the problem at service, although it was still not perfect in the afternoon. On SS6 Burkart had problems and we were caught in his dust, which caused us to lose a bit of time, but at the end of the day we are still leading and that is the best place to be..."
Shaun Gallagher (EI) Clare Mole (GB) (Citroen C2 Super 1600)
"I've got a new co-driver for this rally, Clare, so it obviously took me a little while to get used to her notes although so far the partnership is working well. I had a slightly hesitant start, but then in the afternoon I had a lot more confidence. We made some changes to the suspension at midday service and made the car softer. This definitely made the feeling better, so hopefully we can push a bit tomorrow."
Aaron Burkart (D) Michael Koelbach (D) (Citroen C2 Super 1600)
"Unfortunately we had a problem on SS6, which meant that we dropped from sixth to eighth. It was a real pity, as before we had been building up a lot of confidence and we had no real problems in the morning. In fact I started off at a sensible pace and only began to push harder in the afternoon, but then we hit a stone, picked up a puncture, and finally the steering rack broke about 400 metres from the end of the stage. The rally is long, so we still have every chance of getting some good points here in Sardinia."
Hans Weijs (NL) Hans Van Goor (NL) (Citroen C2-R2 MAX)
"The car is fine and I just drove carefully today, as I did not feel very confident in the conditions and I was aware of my lack of experience. I thought it was best not to take any risks and that was the right decision as in fact we had no real problems. In the afternoon we made the car softer to help the traction, but one of the biggest problems I had was following the ruts of the world rally cars. They are much wider than our car, so we always had one side of the car in their tracks and the other in the middle of road..."
Sebastien Ogier (FR) Julien Ingrassia (FR) (Citroen C2 Super 1600)
"We had decided that we should take a cautious start as this event is meant to be rough. From the very first stage, a differential problem has slowed us down. I could feel a lack of traction and the car's balance wasn't great in the fast portions. After we changed our settings in service, our target was to try to reduce the gap with the leaders. However, we encountered some more difficulties on stage 4. A competitor was stopped on the outside of a left corner. To avoid him, I kept my line on the very left and this led to a puncture. I drove like this for another kilometre before we hit a bank, breaking the tie-rod. We stopped to change the tyre and fix this. But we realised at that point that the transmission was also damaged. The rally ended here for today. We will restart tomorrow in SupeRally aiming to score some points for the championship."