Marcus Gronholm has ended leg one of the Rally Deutschland, round 11 of the World Championship, in third place behind two Citroens after a day without incident. Markko Martin's 307 WRC slipped from fourth to seventh place after hitting a kerb in...
Marcus Gronholm has ended leg one of the Rally Deutschland, round 11 of the World Championship, in third place behind two Citroens after a day without incident. Markko Martin's 307 WRC slipped from fourth to seventh place after hitting a kerb in the morning and knocking a tyre off the wheel rim.
After some heavy overnight rain, this morning's stages were run in bright sunshine. The first day's action consisted of two loops of three stages run through the vineyard roads of the Mosel, with service on the shores of the Bostalsee lake. The Peugeot drivers would have preferred damp conditions, but this weekend's weather forecast indicates a steady and noticeable improvement. They both chose soft slick tyres for the first loop of stages, then slightly harder tyres for the warmer conditions of the afternoon. Under these tricky circumstances, Marcus Gronholm held an impressive third place throughout the day and he returns to Parc Ferme 1m11s behind Loeb. Markko Martin got away with clipping a kerb on the opening stage but when it happened again, four kilometres from the end of SS3, the wheel came off the rim and he lost 30 seconds while limping to the end of the stage.
Marcus Gronholm: "We are doing what we can ^Ö the Citroens are in a class of their own. The best we can hope for is to finish third under normal conditions, although you never know what can happen. For the time being I do not have answer to their pace: the rally may as well be over now! But of course I will carry on and see what I can do. For the time being, we are just best of the rest."
Markko Martin: "It's a real pity we lost all that time in the morning: it was just a stupid thing where we slid a bit wide. I was quite surprised that the whole tyre came off the rim. I actually quite enjoy these vineyard roads; when it is going well I can get into quite a good rhythm with the car. Tomorrow we have the opportunity to make up some places, so we've got to attack ^Ö even though I don't really like the Baumholder stages."
Jean-Pierre Nicolas: "This first leg has played out as we thought it would if conditions remained dry, with the two Citroens in front. We had hoped for rain, which I believe would have allowed us to fight on equal terms with Citroen. In dry conditions Marcus drove brilliantly to stay ahead of all our other competitors, which was the objective. Markko was on the same sort of pace, but unfortunately he lost about 30 seconds and slipped to seventh after his problem in the morning. We had no mechanical issues with the cars at all: the only things we replaced were a front-right wheel hub and shock absorber on Markko's car after his accident."