WRC

Rally of Great Britain: Skoda leg one summary

Toni Gardemeister is fast but unlucky in the forests Didier Auriol ends the opening day in the points Steep learning curve for Kopecký on second WRC event With today's five forest stages of Rally GB completed and with just the city-centre ...

Toni Gardemeister is fast but unlucky in the forests
Didier Auriol ends the opening day in the points
Steep learning curve for Kopecký on second WRC event

With today's five forest stages of Rally GB completed and with just the city-centre superspecial to go, the Škoda Motorsport Team emerged from the Welsh forests battered but intact after a day of intense drama. Didier Auriol is 14th and Toni Gardemeister is 19th.

Toni Gardemeister has shown incredible speed with the Fabia WRC during the day but has also suffered some frustrating problems that have denied him an overall position to match his performance.

He damaged the exhaust on the opening stage of the day that left the Fabia WRC down on power and overheated the engine. He had to top up the radiator with water from the windscreen washer bottle. At service the mechanics carried out repairs but a problem with the starter motor meant he was late leaving for SS4, collecting 2m10s penalty as a result.

Ninth fastest time on SS3 had pushed Toni into the top 10 of the event but the penalty dropped him down the order again. Toni was still able to show the potential of the Fabia WRC, thrilling the thousands of fans that had filled the specially created spectator area in the middle of SS4 Rheola with his flat-out style on the way to seventh fastest time.

He said: "It has been a frustrating day because our overall position does not really reflect our performance on the stages. I drove at 110% and we saw how fast the Fabia WRC can be on gravel. Seventh fastest on SS4 was great and I might have been as quick on SS5 but I hit a bump so hard that the front spoiler came off, got stuck on top of the bonnet and I couldn't really see where I was going!"

Transmission problems forced him to limp through today's final forest stage and he emerged in 19th place.

Didier Auriol has not been able to find the right settings for the conditions today and has suffered from both understeer and oversteer although tonight his Fabia WRC is 14th overall and still in the manufacturers' points scoring positions with Toni just one place outside the points.

He said: "It's a bit of a mystery because we can't seem to find a solution. Possibly it is an electronic problem so must look hard to solve it."

Director of Škoda Motorsport Petr Kohoutek said: "It has been a typically difficult day on this rally and we could easily have been in the top 10 tonight. Unfortunately both drivers have suffered technical problems that have held them back from the result they deserved."

Czech driver Jan Kopecký, driving the factory-supported Škoda Matador Team's Octavia WRC endured a difficult start to his second World Championship rally this season. He damaged the exhaust when he hit a rock on SS3 and the hot gasses set the rear bumper alight, forcing him to stop on the stage to assess the damage. Transmission problems also affected his performance and tonight he lies 33rd overall.

Jan said: "It hasn't been the best start but I hope that the technical problems are now behind us. I was 18th fastest on SS6 and that gave my confidence a real boost for the rest of the rally."

Tomorrow's second leg of the event heads to the rally's most northerly stages in the Brecon Beacons. The route includes two runs over the stage where Marcus Gronholm crashed spectacularly last year on a rare piece of asphalt in this otherwise gravel rally. Crews also tackle Margam Forest and Margam Park, two famous stages where drama often happens. The 138.71kms leg ends with the third and final visit to the Cardiff City Centre superspecial where another 10,000 capacity crowd will gather to see the head to head action.

-skoda-

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Didier Auriol , Marcus Gronholm , Toni Gardemeister , Jan Kopecky