3 August 2007
Finland - leg 1: Ford crushes rivals.
Chris Atkinson was next up in fourth, a further 25 seconds or so back in his Subaru. The Aussie had been near to Seb until a medium-speed spin in SS9, which cost him a good 8 seconds or so and dropped him back closer to his team-mate, Petter Solberg.
Petter endured a nightmare morning and was really unhappy with his Impreza on the first loop. Changes were made to the car in service B though and after that he was back on it, setting six quickest times from as many stages, including two thirds.
Further-down the order, Daniel Sordo may be over a minute off his Citroen C3 team-mate, but it was still a pretty good performance by the Spaniard, who is only doing this event for the second time in a WRC car. Dani set times consistently in the top ten throughout the day, but may need to up the pace on Saturday, if he is to hold off Stobart Ford's Henning Solberg, who is less than 10 seconds behind.
Henning struggled a bit with the set-up in the morning and then had some power steering issues in the afternoon, which hampered his cause some what.
OMV Kronos Citroen's Manfred Stohl completes the provisional points' scorers at this stage, 15-20 seconds or so up on Mitsubishi privateer, Juho Hanninen, who in turn is around the same up on Urmo Aava, who is also competing in a Lancer WRC 05.
Stohl was delighted to be back on the pace and even managed two top six times.
Of the rest, Subaru new boy, Xavier Pons ended the day eleventh, followed by Britain's Guy Wilks and Munchi's Ford team leader, Luis-Perez Companc, the latter two split by over a minute.
Stobart Ford's 'third' driver, Matthew Wilson and Andreas Mikkelsen round out the top 15, with Mads Ostberg 16th and Jan Kopecky 17th in his Skoda Fabia WRC.
In the Junior Rally Championship category, Martin Prokop has dominated, setting the pace in the JRC in six of the ten 'proper' tests. He ended the day just under 40 seconds up on reigning Junior champion, Patrik Sandell, while Jozef Beres completes the top three, 6 seconds up on Conrad Rautenbach's Citroen C2 S1600.
In terms of retirees, there were just two big casualties - namely Kristian Sohlberg and Latvala. Sohlberg went out on SS2, when he rolled his Lancer WRC 05, while Latvala, who was on a charge after a mistake in SS3, had to pull out in SS7 after damaging his car.
The Stobart Ford man will not be able to re-start under the SupeRally format on Saturday as the safety cage was damaged in the incident in Palsankyla 2.
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