Hyundai begins to show colours in Sanremo after mixed start. Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team crew Freddy Loix and Sven Smeets had a difficult start to Rallye Sanremo ending the day in ninth position. Following an incident at shakedown...
Hyundai begins to show colours in Sanremo after mixed start.
Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team crew Freddy Loix and Sven Smeets had a difficult start to Rallye Sanremo ending the day in ninth position.
Following an incident at shakedown yesterday where the Belgian crew had to extinguish a small fire caused by a blown turbocharger, the pair started leg one with a new turbo which had not been run-in. The team were not permitted to retrieve the vehicle concerned from the shakedown stage and even though it was the last opportunity to confirm the final set-up for competing cars before starting the rally itself, the delay prevented Loix doing exactly that.
As a result Freddy and Sven found it difficult to set any really competitive times as the car was different from the ideal settings established on the pre-event test, with which Freddy was confident he would have been able to use to his benefit. Despite this, the pair worked to make small changes to find the car's orginal set-up and managed to steadily improve their stage times to work their way from 15th, where they lay after the first stage of the day, to ninth by the end of the leg.
"The last stage of the day was much better but it is still not as good as would like -- I should have started with that speed this morning but we have spent the whole day making little changes to get back to what we had before the shakedown fiasco," explained Loix. "It could still be better but the rest of the car is perfect and we are nearer to being able to do what I wanted to do this event which is match the times of the Fords and Subarus. Road position tomorrow won't have a big effect but we can go faster. I want some points and not just for the team!"
German team-mates Armin Schwarz and Manfred Hiemer saw their luck of recent weeks go from bad to worse as an accident during the opening stage of the day saw their rally come to a premature end. "It is very frustrating to go out like this because it seems so stupid and I'm sure everybody will think I went crazy from the beginning and I was not ready to return. It wasn't like that -- I wasn't pushing too hard and the plan was to take it easy today and in the stage I was trying to be tidy but fast," exuded a disappointed Schwarz.
He continued to explain, "I went back and looked at the impact after we stopped and what happened was in the middle of a corner, the crash barrier overlapped and was sticking out by about 2-3cm. It dug into the tyre, broke a chunk off the rim and what was worse, it broke the retaining bolts -- with two special stages left to do we just couldn't continue. After all the work and discomfort of the last three weeks to be fit enough to drive here, to retire like this is heart breaking. I originally thought about not trying to be here and focus on new Zealand but after the sessions with my physio Siegfried, which believe me were not pleasant, I was convinced that I was fit enough to drive. I know some will say that I should not have come but as a professional driver this is what you do and my fitness had nothing to do with my accident," he concluded.
News from our rivals
Leg one saw a few leading retirements -- Carlos Sainz (Ford) ended his rally when the hydraulic pipe between the differential and transmission split causing an oil leak and Tommi Makinen (Subaru) retired with front left drive-shaft failure 5km before the start of the final stage of the day. At the head of the field the Peugeots were driving their own rally, as seen on previous tarmac events this year, challenged only by the privately-entered Citroen of Philippe Bugalski. Recently recovered from a broken shoulder blade, Gilles Panizzi (Peugeot) lies a comfortable 22.8 seconds ahead of Bugalski's Citroen, who leads Panizzi's team-mates Marcus Gronholm and Richard Burns in third and fourth position. Ford youngster Markko Martin is in fifth leading Ford's Italian challenge.
Leg two is the longest of the rally covering 150.57 competitive kilometres over six stages -- SS9 and 13 are SS8 and 3 (from leg one) in reverse and SS11 and 12 are stages 4 and 5 (from leg one) in reverse. Stages 10 and 14 in the middle of the day are also repeats of SS1/6 and SS6/7 which have been linked together to make a 42.31km stage, run in the reverse direction.