''It's a bit of a mystery as we have never experienced this kind of problem before,'' said Schwarz. “Although we would have preferred more tricky conditions, our performance on the first day was well up to expectations. We were less than a second per kilometre slower than the leaders and that's a tribute to the Octavia's well-balanced chassis. If all goes well in next month's testing, we should have an improved engine with more power before the next round in Argentina.”
After the recent debut of the latest evolution Accent WRC in muddy Portugal, Hyundai continued the new car's development with its first outing on tarmac. Although Piero Liatti failed to finish because of brake problems, Alister McRae took his car to 11th overall.
Peugeot's Marcus Grönholm was another WRC regular not to reach the finish. The Finn was lying third overall when he swiped a concrete post and ripped off his rear left wheel on SS5.
Finally, a word about the inaugural round of the brand new FIA Super 1600 Championship which was won by Frenchman Sébastien Loeb driving a Citroën Saxo-Michelin. However, the combination of gruelling conditions and the fierce competition in this exciting formula whittled the original entry of twenty-two cars down to just seven survivors!