DANCING THROUGH THE RAIN DROPS-- Marcus Gronholm has ended a difficult first leg of the Catalunya Rally in third place behind the two Citroens, while Nicolas Bernardi had an unlucky day that he ended in 10th place. The drivers faced the ...
DANCING THROUGH THE RAIN DROPS--
Marcus Gronholm has ended a difficult first leg of the Catalunya Rally in third place behind the two Citroens, while Nicolas Bernardi had an unlucky day that he ended in 10th place.
The drivers faced the considerable brainteaser of choosing the right tyres for successive stages with different weather conditions at all three service halts on the first leg of the Catalunya Rally. Although Meteo France predicted rain on the first two stages, Marcus decided to go with soft slick tyres while Nicolas trusted the forecast and chose intermediates. In the end, the thick rain clouds veered off towards the coast and the two stages were run in dry weather, apart from the first part of SS1 that was extremely slippery. Many crews were caught out, so it was a relief for the 307WRC drivers to get to the end without losing too much time.
On the second loop of stages, the first was dry while the second was damp from a rain shower that fell two hours before the cars were due. Marcus, on soft slicks, climbed up to second overall in the damp conditions, while Nicolas -- on hard tyres -- tumbled down the order.
On the last two stages of the day, run in the dry, Marcus chose hard tyres but could not find a satisfactory rhythm and was passed by Francois Duval. By contrast Nicolas found a good pace with the same tyres, despite losing his brakes on the penultimate stage.
Marcus Gronholm: "I am generally quite happy, although I lost my way a bit on the last pair of stages. I did not have complete confidence in the handling of the car in totally dry conditions: I am not quite sure why. Our tyre choices have been quite good all day and this has been the key to our position tonight. But tomorrow I think it will be more a question of defending our place from Toni Gardemeister and the rest behind, rather than attacking the Citroens in front."
Nicolas Bernardi: "Out of three tyre changes we got three wrong, so it was difficult to have a lot of confidence with the car. It is a pity, because when things go well the general feeling is good. But I wanted to finish higher up the general classification, and while there is a very good and clear reason why this has not happened, it still annoys me! We just have to hope for better luck tomorrow."
Jean-Pierre Nicolas: "Despite Marcus Gronholm's third place our general performance is just average. We have made a few mistakes with tyre choice, particularly with Nicolas who loses between 1m30 and 1m45 because of incorrect selections. Furthermore, he had a long brake pedal on SS5 when he was about to set a good time. We are going to do our best tomorrow to ensure that our tyre choices are better and that we climb back up the leaderboard."