WRC » 15 November 2002
Gronholm takes leg one honours on Rally GB.
Citroen came to the Rally GB to gain experience for next year, and both Radstrom and Loeb have adopted cautious approaches. That didn't stop Loeb from clouting the rear of his car on this morning's first stage, but the young Frenchman still completed the day in ninth. Team-mate Radstrom has been slower, and he lies in 18th.
''The biggest problem I'm finding is that the road conditions change from corner to corner,'' noted Loeb. ''You can have good grip at one section and then come over a crest and there's nothing - you could just slide straight off. My aim here is to get experience and try settings for the team, so I'm determined to get round.''
The Hyundai Accents of Freddy Loix and Juha Kankkunen have enjoyed good reliability, although the windscreen washer on the Belgian's car failed during this morning's opening stages. Their team-mate Armin Schwarz has also been happy with the mechanical strength of his car, but he has suffered intercom failure on two different stages.
Four-times world champion Kankkunen and Loix have upheld Hyundai honour. Loix tenth and Kankkunen eleventh, five seconds down. Their team-mate Armin Schwarz lost time with intercom failures but he is less than half a minute further adrift in 13th overall.
Kankkunen noted: ''It's been going fine for me today. The conditions are quite difficult when we're having second runs through the stages, because the loose gravel gets cleared off the road and you get a mixture of ruts and polished hard rock, which is very slippery.''
At Skoda meanwhile the Octavia WRCs of Toni Gardemeister and Roman Kresta have been reliable. Kenneth Eriksson, however, suffered differential problems on this morning's opening pair of stages and then he lost his brakes completely in SS6.
All three Skoda drivers have reported a lack of grip in the slippery conditions though, particularly on the second run through Trawscoed this afternoon, Eriksson lost time with differential problems but he and team-mate Toni Gardemeister entered the closing forest test separated by just a second, albeit outside of the top 10. Brake problems in that stage dropped Eriksson back, however. Following the super special Gardemeister was 14th and Eriksson a disappointing 20th.
Young Czech driver Roman Kresta has found the Welsh terrain especially challenging, and he lies in 21st.
Gardemeister commented: ''It's been really hard work today because the roads have been so slippery that you just feel you've got no grip at all. I don't know if everyone else is having the same problems but when Kenneth and I have had clean runs, the gap between us has been very small so I don't think the package can go much quicker than this.''
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evo WRC of Francois Delecour has been reliable. However, his team-mate Jani Paasonen suffered a broken clutch on the road section from SS5 to service. The Finn was able to reach his Ralliart mechanics without penalties, though.
Mitsubishi's last-minute replacement for Alister McRae, Justin Dale, meanwhile was forced to retire after the second stage this morning when accident damage was found to have kinked his Lancer's roll cage.
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