At the end of leg one of the Rally Japan, round 14 of the World Rally Championship, Marcus Gronholm is in the top three battling against his familiar rivals Petter Solberg and Sebastien Loeb. Peugeot's second driver Daniel Carlsson, who replaces...
At the end of leg one of the Rally Japan, round 14 of the World Rally Championship, Marcus Gronholm is in the top three battling against his familiar rivals Petter Solberg and Sebastien Loeb. Peugeot's second driver Daniel Carlsson, who replaces Markko Martin at short notice, spent the day reacquainting himself with the Peugeot 307 WRC -- which he has not driven since the Rally Sweden in February. Carlsson ends the day in 10th position.
More than 50,000 spectators turned out to watch Thursday night's ceremonial start in Obihiro, from all over Japan as well as the island of Hokkaido. On Friday morning the drivers tackled an opening loop of four stages in dry conditions, which were repeated in the afternoon. This made a total of almost 45% of the entire competitive distance of the rally. On the first loop of stages Marcus played it safe by choosing hard Pirelli tyres as road conditions were rough, particularly on a section of SS3 -- which was 50 kilometres long. Marcus used the same type of tyres in the afternoon, which saw cleaner roads and reasonably consistent temperatures. Despite this, he picked up a puncture on the fourth stage of leg two, losing 15 seconds to Solberg. He ends the day XX seconds off the lead.
Marcus Gronholm: "I've not had a brilliant feeling today, and we lost time on the penultimate stage when the tread came off a tyre towards the start of the stage. The car was all over the place and it was very difficult to control. I'm pleased to get to the end of today and I will do my best to push some more tomorrow, although the truth is that I am not feeling very confident."
Daniel Carlsson: "Today has been good, although I struggled in the fog of the penultimate stage: it was impossible to see. We made some small changes in the afternoon that worked, adjusting the differentials so that the turn-in was better. The car has been perfectly reliable all day and I look forward to trying to improve my position tomorrow."
Jean Pierre Nicolas : " The glass is either half full or half empty depending on which way you look at it: Marcus ends the day 35 seconds off Solberg, despite a stack of tyre problems. Without them, he would have been able to fight for the lead ith Loeb and Solberg. Daniel Carlsson, without the benefit of significant testing, is only seven-tenths of a second per kilometre off Marcus, which is good. On the penultimate stage, visibility was extremely bad due to fog and dust from previous cars."