WRC » 4 May 2001
McRae dominates leg one of Argentine rally.
Petter Solberg added: ''The fog was difficult because I haven't done much rallying in such low visibility. But I'm quite relaxed with the way I'm driving. I promised myself beforehand that I wouldn't keep looking at the times and that's what I'm doing.''
Toshihiro Arai continued: ''It's interesting to follow Colin (McRae) on the road because he's taking some big risks. Four or five times today I've found big rocks in the middle of the road where he's cut a corner!''
At Mitsubishi Tommi Mäkinen's Lancer Evolution has been reliable today, but Freddy Loix was forced to perform running repairs on his example after he damaged its suspension on today's first pair of stages.
Tommi Mäkinen felt that running first on the road today put him at a disadvantage, although he was second quickest on this morning's opening test regardless. The Finn lost time to Colin McRae but seemed able to swap seconds with his rivals for second overall. He was unable to resist Richard Burns's mid-leg charge but Mäkinen was able to battle with Carlos Sainz for third overall.
Freddy Loix, meanwhile, lost time when he hit a rock on today's first stage and bent a steering arm and the rear suspension. The Belgian was pleased with tweaks to his car's differential settings for the afternoon tests, but then he rolled on the day's penultimate stage and lost time as he waited for spectators to return the Lancer onto its wheels.
Tommi Mäkinen said: ''I'm sure the road was getting better for people further down the field this morning, because for us it was quite hard-packed and even polished. We know from our test that a few cars can break up the surface just a little and you end up getting more grip. But the times still aren't bad, so we can just keep trying.''
Freddy Loix added: ''In today's first stage, I came round a long corner and there was a rock in the road. We just couldn't avoid it and it bent a steering arm and damaged the rear suspension. It took time for me to get used to it, because the car was pulling to the right. Our roll was really silly too - we came to a hairpin, pulled the handbrake and it just went over slowly.''
Meanwhile all three Peugeot 206 WRC drivers reported technical problems this morning. Didier Auriol was less than satisfied with his car's throttle response, while Marcus Grönholm's example broke its wastegate after 7km of the first stage, leaving the world champion down on power for much of the morning. Harri Rovanperä's car suffered gearbox problems on downshifts, spoiling the Finn's concentration as he came into corners. He suffered steering problems on the second loop of stages as well, and then retired with suspension damage after the day's penultimate stage.
Didier Auriol openly admits that he doesn't like driving in fog but the 1994 world champion was the top Peugeot for much of this morning nevertheless. Second fastest time on the day's second stage lifted him to fifth, just ahead of team-mate Harri Rovanperä, but then the Swedish Rally winner fought back in today's middle loop of tests to lead the French manufacturer's charge in fifth. But when his car broke a bottom arm in SS7 he was forced to retire. Marcus Grönholm's technical problems left the Finn frustrated and out of the points this morning but once his turbo was fixed, he charged back towards the top six.
Marcus Grönholm said: ''The car just started to lose turbo pressure this morning. It's very frustrating, because the mist on last night's superspecial meant we'd already lost time to Colin and then he went very fast first thing today as well. We need to get our reliability right and then I'm sure we can push. It's not over yet, but Colin's too far ahead already.''
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