Magic Marcus Promises Swedish Fightback Three-time Swedish Rally winner Marcus Gronholm has promised a fight back to the top after being deprived of the lead by a power steering problem on the opening day. Marcus set fastest time on the first...
Magic Marcus Promises Swedish Fightback
Three-time Swedish Rally winner Marcus Gronholm has promised a fight back to the top after being deprived of the lead by a power steering problem on the opening day.
Marcus set fastest time on the first of today's five stages and held the lead until stage three - the longest of the rally at 53 kilometres. He ends leg one of the Swedish Rally sixth overnight, less than a minute behind the leader. His team mate Freddy Loix ends a difficult day in 10th, after struggling with the set-up of his 307 WRC.
Sweden is the World Championship's only true winter rally and the stages are traditionally covered in snow. But unusually warm weather has forced crews to contend with mud and gravel, as well as ice and slush. The cars run on skinny studded snow tyres, which rapidly lose their effectiveness on gravelly surfaces. Today's action consisted of five stages, including two runs through the longest stage of the rally, Granberget.
Marcus was quickest on the opening stage, but as the weather warmed up he struggled for grip on the second stage. He was quickest again halfway through the first run over the long stage, but lost his power steering 20 kilometres from the end. The cause was a loose screw on the fluid reservoir.
"It was really hard work, but I knew I had to keep on pushing," said Marcus. "I tried to limit the time loss as much as possible, but we still ended up losing a minute. It makes life difficult, but we're certainly not giving up. We still have some good chances to do well."
Freddy lacked confidence in the car's handling on the opening loop of stages, and made some changes at first service. Although this helped his feeling with the car, the Belgian was disappointed with his times during the afternoon. His stage times improved as the day progressed, but Freddy still feels there is more to come.
Freddy said: "It's been a very frustrating day for me. In the morning, I lost time on the slower corners as I didn't have a good feeling with the back end of the car. We made some changes and I thought I was driving well, but when I saw the times I was disappointed. We need to think very carefully about why this is happening and try to find a solution."
Tomorrow is the longest day of the rally, with eight stages totalling 152 competitive kilometres. The crews leave parc ferme in Karlstad at 0530 and return at 1936.