LEG ONE : GRONHOLM RETIRES -- BERNARDI DELAYED After the last stage of the opening day of the Rally de France-Tour de Corse, Marcus Gronholm was forced to retire with his car's transmission seized. The Finn was unable to re-start the car on ...
LEG ONE : GRONHOLM RETIRES -- BERNARDI DELAYED
After the last stage of the opening day of the Rally de France-Tour de Corse, Marcus Gronholm was forced to retire with his car's transmission seized. The Finn was unable to re-start the car on the starter motor and his rally was sadly over. The second Peugeot 307 WRC, driven by Nicolas Bernardi, was delayed by gearbox problems.
Marcus had just got to the end of the final stage of the day when his car became jammed in third gear. He deliberately stalled the engine in order to stop at the end of the stage, but could not get it going again using the starter motor.
In contrast to the rain before the start of the rally, weather conditions today were positively summery with temperatures peaking at 24 degrees centigrade in the afternoon. Marcus maintained second place on the opening two special stages in the morning, but he dropped to fourth on the final stage before being forced into retirement.
Nicolas Bernardi: "Our starting position of 17th on the road handicapped us from the start, as we encountered a very dirty road and I could not find a good feeling. The car lacked precision. We changed a few settings for the second loop of stages but we did not go the right way on this. On the last stage we had gearbox problems from the start. Tomorrow we are going to try and find a better solution by going back to our conventional gearbox."
Jean-Pierre Nicolas: "The two Peugeot 307 WRCs in Corsica were equipped for the first time this year with our double-clutch gearbox. This system would have gained us about 15 to 20 seconds over the course of the entire rally. Despite a long period of making this unit reliable, Marcus Gronholm's gearbox became blocked on the fourth and final stage of the day and he was forced to retire. It was a bitter blow! As for Nicolas, he is not where we would reasonably expect him to be. He suffered from a bad road position throughout the day, and I also think that he was letting the pressure of being a factory driver get to him. He is a lot better than his position tonight suggests."