Kankkunen keeps Hyundai spirits up down under. Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team crew Juha Kankkunen and Juha Repo stepped up their pace during leg two of Rally Australia to end the day in 10th position overall. The four-time winner of Rally ...
Kankkunen keeps Hyundai spirits up down under.
Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team crew Juha Kankkunen and Juha Repo stepped up their pace during leg two of Rally Australia to end the day in 10th position overall.
The four-time winner of Rally Australia illustrated how comfortable he is on the slippery and challenging stages of the Aussie bush and top ten stage times all day permitted Kankkunen to steadily work his way up the leaderboard, despite running second on the road. When the Australian special stages are dry there is a lot of loose gravel to clear from the surface so Juha was doing the sweeping honours for the field behind him.
"I was getting happier as the day went on as we started to set some better times but it is just frustrating being second on the road because the conditions are drying out which makes it much more slippery," said four-time World Champion Kankkunen. "I know our times could be better if we were running further down the order as we would be able to benefit from the harder surface."
On leg one Juha spent time making changes to the suspension settings, as the car was feeling particularly hard and bumpy. He found the reason to be a bad set of shock absorbers and once changed the car felt much better. Coupled with a turbo change after the first group of stages in the morning, the performance of Accent WRC" improved further.
"We were running quite well and then we stalled twice on stage 16 and lost about 10 seconds. But then Paasonen rolled so we managed to gain a place," explained Juha. "This morning we lost some time when we couldn't change tyres between stages but the Michelins have been very good."
Tomorrow's stages are in Sotico pine plantation and are a favourite with spectators due to the number of steep jumps providing a real spectacle. They also have the potential to be hard wearing on the rally cars, as Juha explained. "The jumps in Sotico can break the car if you don't have the right set-up, so this evening we will prepare the car for that. We'll increase the ride height, for example, as we have already landed hard on the sump guard a couple of times today."
Kankkunen added, "If the car feels as good tomorrow we should have no problems. Today we put pressure on the Mitsubishi -- now we have passed Paasonen we will concentrate on putting pressure on Loeb (Citroen). We have taken time off him on every stage except one today so I am confident we should be able to do it!"
News from our rivals
The only leading retirement of the day was Ford's Colin McRae who retired while lying in sixth position. Despite setting the third fastest time on stage 14, a heavy landing following a cattle grid damaged the front of the car and the Scot was forced into retirement at the end of the stage, reducing his chances of achieving second place in the drivers championship. Kenneth Eriksson (Skoda) clipped a tree in SS11 damaging the steering on his Octavia and pulling the tree into the middle of road caused a problem for all cars following. Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot) maintained his lead throughout the day but Subaru young-gun Solberg was knocking on his door throughout the day in search of his first WRC win, and lies 48 seconds behind in second. Harri Rovanpera (Peugeot) won four stages over the day and lies a further 24 seconds adrift of Solberg, with Carlos Sainz (Ford) and Tommi Makinen (Subaru) in fourth and fifth positions respectively.
The third and final leg of the rally takes crews south east of Perth City to the Sotico pine plantation, formerly known as Bunnings. 105.69 competitive kilometres remain to be tackled over four special stages, before surviving crews return to the finish ramp at 16:00hrs.