WRC

Spain Subaru Leg One Story

FRUSTRATING OPENER FOR 555 SUBARU Rally of Spain, Leg 1 Information - 20 April, 19:33 +0100 The opening Leg of the Rally of Spain has seen an about-turn of fortunes for many of the 1998 FIA World Championship contenders. ...

FRUSTRATING OPENER FOR 555 SUBARU Rally of Spain, Leg 1 Information - 20 April, 19:33 +0100 The opening Leg of the Rally of Spain has seen an about-turn of fortunes for many of the 1998 FIA World Championship contenders. Frenchman Didier Auriol, who has been plagued by problems so far this season, is leading while Colin McRae, winner of the 1996 Spanish event, is currently in 10th position. 555 Subaru team-mate Piero Liatti is pushing hard to keep a grasp of the leading contenders in 15th place, despite a creditable record in Spain that has seen him finish second in 1996 and 1997. The hot and dry conditions around the Costa Brava have, without doubt, favoured the Michelin-shod runners and assisted the light-weight Formula 2 cars in their battle against the turbo-charged World Rally Cars fighting for the Championship. The 555 Subaru World Rally Team crew of Colin McRae and Nicky Grist struggled from the outset fighting for grip on the slippery asphalt roads. "We just had no grip on the first couple of stages and this lost us a lot of time from the outset. You’re then constantly playing catch-up," said a disappointed Colin. Despite pushing hard, the duo struggled to match the times of the leading contenders, until the penultimate stage of the day when Colin set fastest time. "The road was a lot dirtier, much more gravel and sand and it suited the tyres much better," added Colin. "Tomorrow’s stages are more abrasive and favoured us last year so we’ll wait and see what happens there, but at the moment we’re struggling and it’s frustrating to see so many of the Formula 2 cars ahead of us. Having said that, if a lot of them finish in the points then the situation will be the same for all the World Championship contenders." Team-mate Piero Liatti suffered in much the same way as Colin, however the Italian had the added disadvantage of losing power on the second stage of the day. "One minute the car was fine and then we just gradually kept losing more and more power. Fortunately there was no major problem - the clip that holds the turbo pipe broke - but we lost an awful lot of time and dropped a long way down the field." Suffering further with understeer, the Italian finished the day 15th. "I am completely amazed by what has happened today," said Piero. "We have done a lot of tarmac testing very successfully and I was very happy with my car during the shakedown test. Today, it has been like driving a completely different car from two days ago. It is very strange. Tomorrow may be different, but we will have to wait and see. At the moment we are doing everything we can." Leg 2 of the Rally of Spain takes the crews south of Tarragona for a further six special stages and 173 competitive kilometres.

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Colin McRae , Didier Auriol , Nicky Grist , Piero Liatti