WRC » 28 February 2003
Rovanpera no Turkey on leg one.
Martin picked himself up from the disappointment of having to do a stage and a half (including all of the 30km Silyon test) with just first and second gears and was fastest on SS5.
Hirvonen retired with suspension failure on the first loop of stages this morning.
Martin noted: ''It's so difficult to drive the car when you've only got two gears. Obviously you have no top speed, but it makes the corners hard to get into the rhythm when you're used to changing up or down the gearbox. It was a mechanical problem in the gearbox, all of the electronics and everything else was working but we just didn't have any drive.''
Duval added: ''A good day. Everything is working well. Our tyre choices have been perfect. I have no complaints. Getting to know my new co-driver has been fine today.''
Petter Solberg's Subaru Impreza WRC2003 retired three kilometres into the fourth stage with a broken track rod end. Tommi Makinen's sister car suffered suspension problems on SS4.
Makinen held fourth place overnight, having been passed by Sainz on the fifth and final stage of the opening leg. The Finn admitted he'd found plenty of big rocks around on the day's stages, and while he'd done his best to avoid most of them, a bent sumpguard after the first loop was testament to some of the rocks making it under the car. Solberg had made a fine start to the rally, joint fastest time on the second stage of the event promoted him to the lead. He was still out front two stages later when he suffered a broken trackrod end and retired.
Makinen noted: ''The rear dampers went completely in stage four. The car was hard to drive, it was all over the road. Once we'd got that problem sorted, this afternoon was better.''
Solberg added: ''The car was really good this morning, everything was looking perfect. I came into a third-gear right hand corner with a little bit of oversteer, but I'm not exactly sure what happened - I think the front wheel got caught in a rut and just broke the trackrod end. This is not something which has ever happened before. It's really disappointing, but it was good to see just how well the car was going before the problem.''
Both Hyundai Accent WRCs suffered suspension trouble through the first loop of stages. Armin Schwarz also suffered an exhaust problem, while Freddy Loix's car was hit with a broken turbo on the final stage of the day and a throttle problem.
Despite this trouble though, Schwarz was still able to set second fastest time on SS4 and move into second place overall. When the car came into service the mechanics worked flat out to solve the problem, which unfortunately meant they didn't have time to replace the suspension or brakes, which slowed Schwarz through the day's final two stages. He slipped back to eighth overnight.
The turbo on Loix's car was changed at first service, along with the front dampers, which had leaked all of their fluid. The Belgian was happier with the car through the afternoon, despite the turbo blowing on the final stage - and the throttle sticking open momentarily.
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