Toni Gardemeister finds improvements to Fabia WRC set-up Didier Auriol forced to retire on start line of first stage Toni Gardemeister said today that the recent development work on the Å koda Fabia WRC has been turned into an improvement in...
Toni Gardemeister finds improvements to Fabia WRC set-up
Didier Auriol forced to retire on start line of first stage
Toni Gardemeister said today that the recent development work on the Škoda Fabia WRC has been turned into an improvement in the car's handling and overall performance. He finished today's six stages in 13th position.
Toni said: "The engine feels much smoother than in San Remo although the uphill sections of this rally show that we still need to find more power. I have used softer suspension for today's opening leg and the car feels much faster than in Italy."
After the accident that put him out of San Remo, Toni admitted that he started today in a cautious mood but gradually picked up the pace as the day progressed. The stages had become very dirty for the second runs this afternoon with lots of loose gravel dragged onto the roads by other cars. "Driving downhill on gravel and on slick tyres is very dangerous so I could not push too hard," said Toni. Tonight he plans no major changes to the car although he may fit softer suspension tomorrow if it rains.
Škoda Motorsport manager Pavel Janeba said: "We took a big step in a fresh direction with our suspension development before this rally. We saw today that the gap to the big teams is less than it was in San Remo so I hope that we are now heading in the right direction. We can't make big improvements in just three days but I think we have reason to be optimistic for the future."
Didier Auriol was forced to retire from a 'home' rally that he has won six times in the past before he even started the first stage. A water leak caused a short circuit in the ECU that controls the clutch and electronic gearchange. As the problem occurred inside the control area the rules did not allow Didier to repair the problem.
Didier said: "If we had not been in the control area we could have fixed it and continued in the rally. As soon as we retired from the event we were able to make the necessary changes and drive the car back to service."
Tomorrow's second leg to the east of Ajaccio is the longest of the rally comprising 190kms of stages. There are three different stages (including the two longest of the event) run once in the morning and repeated in the afternoon. The day's third stage is the longest of the rally at 40.94kms. It starts on the route of a classic Corsican stage before changing at half distance to a brand new section that has not been used before.