The Skoda Motorsport World Rally Team has posted some respectable times over the first day of the first all tarmac event of the World Rally Championship, the Rally of Corsica. All three Octavia WRCs returned safely to the overnight halt, with...
The Skoda Motorsport World Rally Team has posted some respectable times over the first day of the first all tarmac event of the World Rally Championship, the Rally of Corsica. All three Octavia WRCs returned safely to the overnight halt, with crews Toni Gardemeister/Paavo Lukander in 17th position overall, Roman Kresta/Jan Tomanek, who are making their debut in the island rally, in 19th postion and Kenneth Eriksson/Tina Thorner in 20th .
Today the drivers set off in bright sunshine, racing across dry stages in the mountain passes less than an hour's drive from the rally HQ in Ajaccio. But in the early afternoon the changeable island climate took over, the clouds rolled in and the rain began in earnest, so that Skoda Motorsport drivers were racing in the wet over the last two stages of the day.
Finn Toni Gardemeister, 26, had a reasonable day, putting in some strong times, in particular over the longest stage of the event, the 36.73km long Petreto -- Ampaza. But he was concerned about the stability of his Octavia WRC. He said: "The car just started rolling a bit as we raced through the stage. Then it stabilised but the suspension feels a bit jumpy. We also had a puncture 11km into stage 4, which kept our speed down. Apart from that I've had a reasonable first leg."
Meanwhile Skoda Motorsport's Roman Kresta, 25, was a bit nervous about the unforgiving asphalt of Corsica. He said: "This is a really tough event. One minute you are going flat out, the next you have to cut your speed completely. It is nerve wracking if you don't really know the course. But the car is running well, so I am happy to keep up a cautious approach. The early drivers through the stages had an advantage because the roads were clean and they missed the rain. I would have preferred to be racing on completely dry tarmac."
Skoda Motorsport's Kenneth Eriksson reported that his Octavia WRC was driving well, but his speed was compromised after he suffered twice from tyre damage. The 45 year old explained: "Five km into the first stage we damaged the front right tyre, so that slowed us down slightly. Then during stage 3 the front left tyre sheered away and in turn hit and damaged the wing of the car. We are not sure why it happened, perhaps the tyres are a bit soft, so it's something we need to work on. The last two stages of the day were very wet so that was quite difficult."
Skoda Motorsport's Team Principal Pavel Janeba said: "We did not expect miracles here but I am disappointed that the gap between us and other drivers is bigger than I would have hoped for. But it's a positive thing to have all three Octavias back safely and driving consistently. We shall just have to see what happens tomorrow and then Sunday."
Today's rally was relatively drama free although Petter Solberg (Subaru) sacrificed his third place after spinning off the road just after the start of stage 4. Tomorrow drivers face the longest of the rally days, racing a total of 154,83 competitive km, beginning with a repeat of stage 3, before moving North of the rally HQ and further into the rural inland.