S-WRC wrap: Mikkelsen upstages title fight Andreas Mikkelsen has upstaged the fight for the inaugural Super 2000 World Rally Championship crown on Wales Rally GB by topping his class on all but one of the opening day's seven stages. Mikkelsen,...
S-WRC wrap: Mikkelsen upstages title fight
Andreas Mikkelsen has upstaged the fight for the inaugural Super 2000 World Rally Championship crown on Wales Rally GB by topping his class on all but one of the opening day's seven stages.
Mikkelsen, who is using the entry normally occupied by the absent Martin Prokop, was fastest on Thursday night's all-asphalt stage in Cardiff Bay and maintained his edge throughout the six gravel-based stages that made up Friday's action to hold a 32.8-second advantage heading into day two.
"The last rally I did in Cyprus was with a different tyre and in a different car so I have been getting used to some new things today," said Mikkelsen, who is driving a Skoda Fabia S2000. "It has not been easy today in the conditions and keeping the car in the line has been difficult."
Behind Mikkelsen, the three-way scrap for the S-WRC title between Xevi Pons, Jari Ketomaa and Patrik Sandell, was turned on its head when Sandell's Skoda suffered powersteering failure on stage five. With no opportunity to repair the fault, the Swede was forced to soldier through two more stages and has dropped to seventh overall as a result, more than five minutes adrift of Mikkelsen.
Ketomaa is second overnight in his Shanghai FCACA Rally Team Ford Fiesta S2000 after reporting traction problems in the morning. The Finn is driving a replacement Fiesta with a new gearbox and engine to give him the best possible chance of becoming S-WRC champion.
However, if the positions remain unchanged then Ketomaa will miss out on the laurels by a single point from Pons, who is fourth overall following a torrid day in his Fiesta. "I am not happy because I have been driving as fast as possible but the time is not there," said the Spaniard.
Eyvind Brynildsen is third overall in his Skoda despite complaining his car's set-up was awry in the morning. "We went the wrong way with the settings," said the Norwegian. "The car was understeering into the corner then getting big sideways on the exit. It's a risk to push harder."
Behind Pons, rising Irish star Craig Breen recovered from a scare following stage four when his car filled with toxic fumes and the spare wheel caught fire in a bizarre incident heading to the remote service halt in Builth Wells. He holds fifth overall.
Michal Kosciuszko was fifth overall after the first Sweet Lamb test but slipped back when he inflicted damage to the left-rear of his car seven kilometres from the end of Myherin. With remote service regulations restricting the amount of work a team can do to a car, the Polish driver was unable to attack in the afternoon and is more than five minutes off the pace.
Bernardo Sousa completed Thursday's Cardiff Bay stage with the eighth fastest time but withdrew his Fiesta in order to head to his native Portugal where he is contesting the final round of the national championship. The Madeira-born driver is using the event to celebrate winning the title for the first time in his Fiesta. Albert Llovera withdrew before the start for medical reasons.
P-WRC wrap: Tanak recovers to lead as Flodin falters
Patrik Flodin's hopes of repeating his 2008 Rally GB Production Car World Rally Championship victory were dealt a big blow on the final stage of Wales Rally GB tonight when he bent the steering on his Subaru, allowing Ott Tanak to move to the head of the field.
Flodin had been on stunning form for the first six stages of the event, winning each test to build up a lead of more than a minute.
The Swede knew full well that, having started the event 18 points adrift of Production title favourite Armindo Araujo, nothing but a win would do for him - and, for much of the opening day in mid-Wales, everything had looked good for him.
It all went wrong just after the start of the second run through the Myherin test, when he hit a rock with a front wheel and damaged the steering. Flodin coped manfully with the problem, containing the time loss with drastically reduced control over the car's direction for the remaining 27 kilometres of SS7.
Having overcome his own problems in the morning, Pirelli Star Driver Tanak wasted no time in scoring his first fastest time of the day to lead the event back in to Cardiff for the final service of day one.
The Estonian felt his engine hadn't run cleanly through the morning stages, with the turbo anti-lag system not functioning properly. Following the remote service in Builth Wells, the car was running well in the afternoon.
"We made some adjustments," said Tanak. "We couldn't do anything with the mapping because of the regulations, but the car was better in the afternoon. It was tricky this morning, we couldn't get the engine to rev clean enough to get the shift light. We also made some changes to the suspension. This morning, the car wasn't moving under braking to shift the weight to get it turned in."
Despite his tricky morning, Tanak had built a 40-second lead over Araujo, who was doing nothing to jeopardise his possible back-to-back titles. "This rally is not for me to win," he said. "Maybe it's still for Flodin. But for me, I am taking it easy, I'm not going to make the risk or anything. For this afternoon, I made the car a little bit more soft to try and get some more traction."
Flodin was third at the end of the day, just 1.5 seconds behind Araujo. Czech Republic driver Martin Semerad was fourth in his Lancer, despite struggling through the second run of stages which were run in heavy rain. "The weather is crazy!" said Semerad, who had run in second through the morning. "The screen was getting foggy [misted up], which made it difficult. It's been a tough day today."
Leading British driver Dave Weston was fifth in his Subaru Impreza WRX, albeit more than two minutes adrift of leader Araujo.
New Zealander Hayden Paddon was another driver who had made a solid start to the event, but his Pirelli Star Driver Mitsubishi suffered a broken left-rear rear wishbone, which had to be strapped together due to the regulations not allowing any spare parts at the Builth Wells service. He dropped from a possible podium spot to seventh.