WRC » 20 June 2003
Gronholm leads in Cyprus after leg one.
Martin said: ''In one section - where I lost quite a bit of time to Marcus - I was sliding wide and you just can't do that on an event like this. Every time you slide, you're losing time. We had to use the handbrake a lot to get the car turned in to the corners. This afternoon we had the hydraulic glitch, this is the way our luck works, the longest stage of the rally - we have to have a problem!''
Duval commented: ''This is the same problem that we had in New Zealand with the hydraulics. Before we had the problem everything was okay It's very important for me to finish today, but the problem with the gearbox could have cost us the chance of a good position on the road.''
Hirvonen added: ''This is all about experience for me. I'm not pushing too hard, just keeping out of trouble and in the middle of the road.''
At Hyundai meanwhile Armin Schwarz and Freddy Loix both suffered engine and differential overheating problems on the opening leg. The off-side front wheel came loose on the German's car following the second stage, he and co-driver Manfred Hiemer stopped to strap it into place. Justin Dale retired on the road section into service following the second stage with terminal overheating problems.
The opening leg of Cyprus Rally 2003 was a tough one for the Hyundai team. All three cars suffered the same problem, overheating in the baking temperatures which accompany this event. Loix and Schwarz made it through, but Dale was forced to stop in the first run at the Lagoudera-Spilia stage to top up the water levels on his car. Unfortunately for the Englishman there was too much damage to the engine on his car and he retired.
Schwarz said: ''We drove at recce speed this morning. The differentials overheated on the first stage, which left us with no front brakes. Then the engine overheated on the next one. A bolt had come loose on the steering or something, I felt the front wheel moving about, so we had to stop to sort that out. Not a good start.''
Loix added: ''We haven't had a good morning, the problem with the overheating cost us a lot of time. Knowing we had that problem, though, the time wasn't too bad. It's quite frustrating when the engine overheats, though: it goes on to a safe map which doesn't give as much power. These stages are slow anyway, but when the engine's not pulling it's even worse. On the second run through it was a little better, because the temperature was lower, we lost the engine power after about 20km rather than ten.''
Dale continued: ''After about two kilometres of SS2 the temperature warning light came on, but we carried on for about 18km. By then there was a lot of steam coming from under the bonnet, so we stopped to top up the water. Doing that was really difficult, it was so hot around the engine, the water was spitting everywhere. I thought it was all over then, but with some more water in I fired the car up and we carried on for another ten kilometers. We got to the end of the stage, but the engine was on three cylinders, then on the road section it finally gave up. This is a huge disappointment for all concerned.''
Both Skoda Octavia WRCs suffered heat-related fuel vapourisation on the long second and fourth stages, while the centre differential on Gardemeister's car also gave trouble on SS2.
Didier Auriol was happy with his start to the event, but felt the team would have benefited from a pre-event test for the rough Cypriot roads. Auriol hurt his right wrist two kilometres from the end of the second stage, but apart from that enjoyed a relatively trouble-free run through leg one. Gardemeister stopped after the stage to look at the fuel problem, but was unable to find anything wrong with the car.
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