* Didier Auriol's confidence growing with every stage * Fuel injection problems stop Toni Gardemeister * Snow patches make road conditions unpredictable The Skoda Motorsport World Rally Team had an eventful start of the Rallye Monte Carlo 2003,...
* Didier Auriol's confidence growing with every stage
* Fuel injection problems stop Toni Gardemeister
* Snow patches make road conditions unpredictable
The Skoda Motorsport World Rally Team had an eventful start of the Rallye Monte Carlo 2003, the first of 14 rallies this year. The cars started at 7.45 a.m. this morning, for 14 special stages covering a total of 415 km in this rally.
Didier Auriol started cautiously. He finished the first special stage in 14th place, but got faster all the time as confidence in his Skoda Octavia WRC grew. He ended up in eleventh place after six special stages on the first day.
Didier, signing photographs for his ever-present fans, commented: "Sometimes it was tricky today, because the cars in front of me threw so much snow on the road in the corners. The road conditions were often totally different from what the gravel crew had told me. I had to be very careful not to go off. For the rest it was OK, the car was going well and there were no problems at all."
The high hopes and motivation of the team were challenged from the very beginning when the Skoda Octavia WRC of Toni Gardemeister suffered from cut outs of the fuel injection system. The problem worsened and finally the engine stopped when Toni was on special stage number two. The car could not be re-started and the Finn had to give up.
Toni: "This is so disappointing; Paavo and I would have liked to show something at this rally, which has such a rich and long history. I was going well in the beginning but the engine cut outs slowed me down and it became worse and worse. The engine finally stopped completely on the second stage."
Team principal Pavel Janeba was happy and sad at the same time. He was very disappointed because Toni was thrown out of the rally at such an early stage by only a small problem. But he was happy too, because Didier brought his Skoda Octavia WRC back in eleventh place.
Pavel Janeba said: "It was good that Didier took it cautiously in the beginning. He had not been in competition for long. But he picked up very quickly and moved up the score board. I am happy with his results so far because we aim to finish this rally at a place in the top ten, which is quite possible with the result of today."
Tomorrow the competitors face another four stages just north of Grasse, totalling 114,5 km.