THE TALENT OF MARCUS, THE COURAGE OF TIMO Marcus Gronholm - who has won his native Rally Finland in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004 - is determined to remain the master of this particular event. At the end of leg one of round 10 of the World ...
THE TALENT OF MARCUS, THE COURAGE OF TIMO
Marcus Gronholm - who has won his native Rally Finland in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004 - is determined to remain the master of this particular event. At the end of leg one of round 10 of the World Rally Championship, Marcus leads Finland with a slender but determined advantage from--the Citroen of Sebastien Loeb.
Nonetheless, the day has been far from easy. The Peugeot team had a real scare at the end of the 33-kilometre long SS5 when Marcus radioed in to say that his co-driver Timo Rautiainen had severe pain in his back, and that he was not sure if they would be able to continue the rally. At the time he started the stage - the longest of the rally - Marcus was in the lead and attacking hard, as he had been from the start of the day. After 10 kilometres, a big jump taken at around 200kph caused a severe compression as the car landed. Timo Rautiainen felt a sharp pain in his back and was unable to continue reading the notes. One short stage remained before a service halt in Jyvaskyla, where Timo was treated by the team doctor and osteopath for bruising on his back. After the 30 minute service, Timo felt well enough to continue. Proving that the medical team had done a good job, Marcus and Timo carried on where they had left off - setting their fourth fastest time of the day!
Markko Martin, using a suspension set-up that suited him better, made the most of an event he loves by showing impressive pace. The Estonian ends a successful day in third place.
Sebastien Lindholm had the misfortune to suffer a broken brake hose on the second stage of the day, which forced him to drive the following pair of stages with no brakes. He lost more than two minutes.
Marcus Gronholm: "It's been a very good day for us but the last few stages were difficult because I was thinking about Timo's back all the time, so I was definitely backing off over some of the more violent crests. The car and the tyres have been perfect all day and it's a nice feeling to fight for the lead again. I've always had a very good feeling for these stages and it's fun to drive them. But we are in the middle of a very tight battle and we have to keep pushing, so it's always more fun when you have done the stages and you can look back on them!"
Markko Martin: "I think I have felt more comfortable in the car today than I have since the start of the year. To do well in Finland mostly you need to have confidence, and I have good confidence in the car now. The new suspension set-up has helped me a lot. Tomorrow we will face a tight battle with Toni Gardemeister and Petter Solberg, and if it is as slippery as it was on many of the stages today, it could get very interesting. But I feel able to attack now, so I'm looking forward to them."
Sebastian Lindholm: "The afternoon's stages were very rough, and our road position did not help. There were many deep ruts, which the car kept jumping out of. Obviously the problems we had this morning were our biggest handicap, but now we are up to 13th and we just have to take one thing at a time. Our aim is to make our way up the leaderboard as far as we can."
Jean-Pierre Nicolas: "This first leg showed the fantastic performance we expected from Marcus on home territory. As for Markko, he finds himself more at ease on these fast roads, thanks also to the modifications he requested to the suspension. At the end of the first leg we are right up where we wanted to be, despite the scare we had in SS5 when Marcus's 307 WRC landed heavily after a crest. Timo Rautiainen suffered from a backache so severe that he could not read the notes for the rest of that stage or the next one. Our doctor, Dr. Khaled Ouabacche from Mondial Assistance, together with our physio Alex Beraha, were able to restore Timo to health within the half-hour allotted for service. We had no technical problems with the car apart from a rogue broken brake hose for Sebastian, which was caused by clipping a rock. He sadly lost two minutes. The drivers were very happy with their Pirelli tyres, which proved to be extremely efficient during today's mixed conditions."