Harri Leads Peugeot Attack Peugeot driver Harri Rovanpera has ended the opening leg of the Rally New Zealand in 2nd place, having taken the lead on SS7. His team mate Marcus Gronholm is third, after losing first place with a roll on ...
Harri Leads Peugeot Attack
Peugeot driver Harri Rovanpera has ended the opening leg of the Rally New Zealand in 2nd place, having taken the lead on SS7. His team mate Marcus Gronholm is third, after losing first place with a roll on SS6.
Today's action consisted of five forest stages plus two runs through the spectator superspecial at Manukau. The road surfaces were slightly damp in the morning, before drying out completely for the afternoon's stages. New Zealand is well-known for its fast and flowing gravel roads, and today's stages were typical of the Antipodean event. The rally ran to the 'Mille Pistes' system for the first time -- a style of rallying where the reconnaissance takes place early in the morning before the stages are driven competitively later in the day.
Harri had a fast and clean run on only his second event in the all-new Peugeot 307 WRC. He set two fastest stage times, and had no mechanical problems whatsoever all day. He returns to Parc Ferme in Auckland confident of another successful outing tomorrow.
"I really enjoyed today," said Harri. "I had a very good feeling with the car and I was able to push hard. It's been really fun to lead the rally, and we've been on the pace from the very start. I really like long stages and we were flat-out on all of SS7, which was 48 kilometres. I decided not to risk anything on the superspecial, so I think we are in a good position for tomorrow. I'm not changing anything on the car: it's perfectly fine as it is."
Marcus won two stages today, and led the rally until he was caught out by a slow corner at the very end of SS6. Nonetheless, he recovered to maintain a front running pace and ends the leg in third place just half a minute behind the leader. His Peugeot 307 WRC also ran faultlessly all day.
"It was a stupid mistake," said Marcus. "My car went up onto two wheels in the same place last year, but this time we unfortunately went over. Some spectators eventually pushed us back, but we lost more than 30 seconds. It's disappointing, as we certainly have the pace to be in front. But there's still a long way to go and the car set-up feels good. We'll keep pushing!"
Tomorrow is the longest day of the rally and consists of eight stages totalling 138 competitive kilometres.