Peugeot driver Marcus Gronholm has finished first on the opening leg of the Rally Argentina, round eight of the World Rally Championship. His team mate Harri Rovanpera ends the opening day in eighth. Today's action consisted of 10 stages â€“...
Peugeot driver Marcus Gronholm has finished first on the opening leg of the Rally Argentina, round eight of the World Rally Championship. His team mate Harri Rovanpera ends the opening day in eighth.
Today's action consisted of 10 stages – split into two loops of four plus two runs over the short spectator superspecial in the evening. Conditions were cloudy but remained dry throughout the day. The stage surfaces were varied, with a lot of loose gravel that made conditions difficult for all the leading runners.
Marcus made a tyre choice that he felt was too hard for the opening loop of stages, but still emerged in front by first service. The Finn was fast and reliable to maintain his lead to the end of the day, despite an intense battle with Citroen driver Carlos Sainz. In total, Marcus set five fastest stage times and his 307WRC was entirely reliable over today's 162 competitive kilometres.
He said: "I'm generally happy with the way things have gone, although I haven't been able to relax for one moment. Things certainly aren't comfortable, and anything could still happen. I've been pushing reasonably hard without going crazy, and as this is fast enough to keep the lead my plan is to carry on like this. In the afternoon the stages were a lot cleaner and less slippery than they were in the morning, although it was quite rough with several deep ruts. I've got no complaints about the car though: the team has done an excellent job."
Harri was also unhappy with his tyre choice over the opening loop of stages, but a worse problem awaited him in the afternoon. His power steering pump failed on stage seven: the first of a long loop of four stages. Harri had to wrestle his 307 back to service over more than 70 agonising kilometres, and he dropped down to eighth overall.
"These problems always seem to happen to me when there are several stages left before service!" he said. "The steering suddenly failed as I was turning into a corner and from then I knew it was going to be very hard work. I tried to fix the problem on the road section, but it was too complicated. Now that the car is fine again we can push hard tomorrow. I've been encouraged by our pace today when things were going well, so I am sure we can score some points by the end of the rally."
Tomorrow's action consists of nine more stages, including another loop of four in the morning and two final runs over the spectator superspecial in the evening.