|2008 Rally New Zealand : WRC Round 11 of 15 : 29th - 31st August|
In this issue:
1. Leg 1 Unofficial Leaderboard
2. Leg 1 News
4. Leg 1 Team by Team News
5. Remaining Event Schedule
1. Unofficial Leaderboard
1. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS 1hr 34min 44.3sec
2. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen C4 1hr 35min 12.1sec
3. D Sordo/M Marti ESP Citroen C4 1hr 35min 14.3sec
4. J-M Latvala/M Anttila FIN Ford Focus RS 1hr 35min 14.4sec
5. F Duval/P Pivato BEL Ford Focus RS 1hr 36min 12.2sec
6. U Aava/K Sikk EST Citroen C4 1hr 36min 45.6sec
7. P Solberg/P Mills NOR Subaru Impreza 1hr 37min 10.1sec
8. P-G Andersson/J Andersson SWE Suzuki SX4 1hr 37min 34.8sec
9. T Gardemeister/T Tuominen FIN Suzuki SX4 1hr 38min 32.3sec
10 F Villagra/J Perez Companc ARG Ford Focus RS 1hr 39min 31.8sec
2. Leg News
Sébastien Loeb (Citroen) closed to within 0.7sec of Hirvonen before he incurred a 30sec penalty when a jammed starter motor forced him to start the penultimate test late. He won three of the four afternoon stages. Team-mate Dani Sordo lay fourth all day until edging ahead of Latvala by 0.1sec on the final stage. Toni Gardemeister (Suzuki) dropped 45sec on the opening stage after going off the road and then puncturing a rear tyre. Munchi's driver Henning Solberg (Ford) lost seven minutes when he completed all three morning tests with no power steering. He then received a 60sec penalty as the team rushed to change his car's hydraulic system. Stobart driver Matthew Wilson (Ford) retired from eighth after this afternoon's opening test with gear selection troubles while Chris Atkinson (Subaru) rolled in the same test and then stopped with an engine problem just before the finish.
4. Team by Team News
BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team stamped its authority on Rally New Zealand from the beginning of the opening leg this morning to take a lead it was never to lose. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila led initially before team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen moved to the front, ending the first of three days of competition with a 27.8sec advantage in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car. Latvala lies fourth in another Focus RS WRC, part of a trio of crews clustered behind Hirvonen who are covered by just 2.3sec. Tactics played a part as Latvala deliberately eased his pace late this afternoon in order to gain a better start position for tomorrow's second leg of this 11th round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
#3 : Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: ""When I have that kind of rhythm on these flowing roads, it feels as if I don't need to push too hard. It's tricky to find the right balance here because if you cross the camber in the bends then you immediately slide off the line and lose time. The roads have dried more quickly than we thought and it was slippery in the loose gravel, but I don't think road position made too much of a difference."
#4 : Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila:"I slowed towards the end of the penultimate stage to ensure a better road position for tomorrow. Third will be a good place to start. It will be a challenging day but I really like those roads so I'm looking forward to it," he added.
Citroen Total World Rally Team
The opening day of this year's Rally New Zealand ended with Citroën Total's two C4 WRCs in second and third places overall. Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena completed Friday's action just 27.8s behind the leader, while Dani Sordo/Marc Martí are 30s back and the event is shaping up to be yet another thriller.
#1 : Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: "We can't fault our C4 WRC. Its set-up is perfect for these
stages and it is handling excellently. Despite the limited amount of grip that was available, I pushed as hard
as I could. We were forced to use hard compound tyres which didn't work well on the cold, hard-packed
ground we found this morning. On top of that, we had so much roadsweeping to do that it was really difficult
to post quick times, but I haven't given up challenging for the lead."
#2 : Daniel Sordo/Marc Marti: "It was impossible to make full use of our car's
potential. The top-coating of gravel was so thick in places that our tyres, which we are no longer allowed to
're-cut', weren't able to eke out enough grip. Even running third on the road, we were still sweeping a clearer
line for those running behind us in the order."
Subaru World Rally Team
After a tough first day of Repco Rally New Zealand, the Subaru World Rally Team duo of Chris Atkinson and Stéphane Prévot were sidelined after a roll on stage four, whilst team-mates Petter Solberg and Phil Mills finished in seventh position overall.
#5 : Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: "We've been pushing hard, but we're too far off the leaders. We had some problems with damaged front right suspension, and that's where we lost most. Grip was really tricky this morning, very slippery, and it got better this afternoon, but with our road position we should have been faster."
#6 : Chris Atkinson/Stephane Prevot: "It's disappointing for sure, but the car just got sideways and on full opposite lock I ended up cutting a corner too much and it just went over. But the car stood up well to the impact so we're both ok. We were pushing pretty hard this morning and maybe a little harder after the service, but it's just disappointing that we weren't able to get closer to the pace. We seem to be giving away a little more in the slow stuff than the fast. The grip was pretty tricky this morning, but much better on the second passes as road cleaning is a big factor. We'll take tomorrow as more testing and mileage and see what we're able to do."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford World Rally Team
Day 1 of Repco Rally New Zealand - round 11 of the FIA World Rally Championship - has seen François Duval/Patrick Pivato close the day in fifth position. Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team-mates Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin unfortunately retired from the leg after showing some encouragingly strong times which saw them run as high as eighth until a transmission problem put a halt to their day 1 campaign.
#7: Francois Duval/Patrick Pivato: "Today has been good for us especially with this being my first WRC event on gravel since Greece last year. This morning the car was not feeling great so we changed the rollbar at service which resulted in much less over-steer and this helped my confidence a lot this afternoon. On the last two stages I was using a bit too much left-foot braking and I lost the front brakes but apart from that everything went well this afternoon."
#8 : Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin: "It is a shame we had to retire today after doing so well. The times were looking good and we had some really promising splits on that last stage before we retired. This is the sport sometimes though and tomorrow we will have a repaired car and a perfect road position so I'm looking forward to setting some more fast times. Again though, it is disappointing because we were in a position to score good points for both the team and the championship."
Suzuki World Rally Team
Both Suzuki SX4 WRCs held top-10 positions at the end of an impressive opening day of Rally New Zealand for drivers P-G Andersson and Toni Gardemeister. Swede Andersson was never out of the top-10 fastest times on the long stages out west of the rally's base in Hamilton. In SS2.2, Andersson was fifth fastest, just 4.2 seconds off the fastest time - a feat he repeated on the day's final stage at Mystery Creek.
#11 : Toni Gardemeister/Tomi Tuominen: "This morning was disappointing for me. I really wanted a
good run here and had a nice feeling, but then we got the puncture. After
that, the rest of the day has been good. No problems. The car has been
running well, but the conditions have been tough this morning. Running
through the stages the second time, the line is looking cleaner which is
helping to give us more traction."
#12 : Per-Gunnar Andersson/Jonas Andersson: "The first stage was really tough, it was a bit of a
surprise. The car was much too hard and this was combined with the driving
been too bad. The tyre was too hard for the conditions, but this is the same
for everybody. We came out of the first stage and made some changes to the
suspension on the car - we softened it as much as we could. This helped in
the second stage and then in the third, everything was going really well. I
found the re-run of Pirongia West (SS4) quite hard, I couldn't find a rhythm
in the stage. It's been a good day today, though. The car has been perfect
and we're in the best position possible. Now we have to stay there."
5. Remaining Event Schedule
Saturday 30 August: Day 2 Hamilton - Hamilton
Serv C Mystery Creek (15 mins) 06.50
SS6 Port Waikato 17.22km 09,08
SS7 Possum 13.78km 09.46
SS8 Franklin 31.58km 10.24
SS9 Mystery Creek 2 3.14km 12.37
Serv D Mystery Creek (30 mins) 13.15
SS10 Te Akau South 31.92km 15.03
SS11 Te Akau North 32.36km 15.46
Serv E Mystery Creek (45 mins) 17.46
Finish Mystery Creek 18.34
Sunday 31 August: Day 3 Hamilton - Hamilton
Serv F Mystery Creek (15 mins) 07.45
SS12 Te Hutewai 1 11.23km 09.23
SS13 Whaanga Coast 1 29.72km 09.51
RSZ G Raglan (15 mins) 10.57
SS14 Te Hutewai 2 11.23km 11.28
SS15 Whaanga Coast 2 29.72km 11.56
SS16 Mystery Creek 3 3.14km 14.00
Serv H Mystery Creek (10 mins) 14.18
Finish Mystery Creek 15.00
Rally total 353.04km