Marcus On Provisional Podium in Japan Peugeot driver Marcus Gronholm is in third place after the opening leg of the inaugural Rally Japan, just 17.8 seconds behind the leader. His team mate Harri Rovanpera ends the day eighth, after suffering...
Marcus On Provisional Podium in Japan
Peugeot driver Marcus Gronholm is in third place after the opening leg of the inaugural Rally Japan, just 17.8 seconds behind the leader. His team mate Harri Rovanpera ends the day eighth, after suffering gearbox problems.
Japan, new to the World Rally Championship this year, is characterised by fast and narrow gravel roads, with some tight corners and tricky technical sections. Weather conditions today were warm and dry throughout the nine opening stages.
Marcus got off to a good start this morning, setting some competitive stage times over the unfamiliar territory. His Peugeot 307 WRC was entirely reliable throughout the day, but he dropped from second to third after losing confidence in the brakes during the final loop of stages.
"So far it's been very good," said Marcus. "I like the stages here: they are quite fast and you need to attack. Unfortunately I had a soft brake pedal that meant that I couldn't push as hard as I wanted. Nonetheless, I think I have found a good rhythm with the car and the event now. We're looking competitive, and my plan is to build on that tomorrow."
Harri dropped time after losing fourth gear during the opening kilometres of SS1. The Finn nursed the car through the four stages before service, where the problem was fixed. Unfortunately, the problem occurred again during the afternoon, losing Harri even more time.
"It was a shame about the gearbox problem, because without that we could have been right up there," commented Harri. "There is a big gap between third and fifth gear, so I was having to drive really carefully. We've been desperately unlucky to drop so much time so soon but we still have a long way to go so I'm not giving up yet!"
Tomorrow drivers tackle the longest day of the rally, with 11 tough stages after an early start. The first car is scheduled to leave Parc Ferme at 0530 and will return at 2016.