5 December 2008
Wales - day 1: Latvala shows way.
"Mud made the second pass even more delicate than the first," said Seb. "The start of SS6 was even delayed because of a hailstorm! Our hard compound tyres weren't exactly in their element in the mud and couldn't provide enough grip. We aren't allowed to 're-cut' the tread patterns either, so we couldn't get extra grip that way. All in all, though, I think we came through the day fairly well."
Next up is Per-Gunnar Andersson and the Swede is currently on course to give Suzuki its first ever podium result at the 'senior' level. P-G is 9.6 seconds off Loeb and fractionally up on Mads Ostberg in fourth.
"It's been a great day today, and I am very proud to be on the podium overnight; the first time that this has happened for me or Suzuki with the SX4 WRC," said Andersson. "This just goes to show that all the hard work we have put in over the year is really starting to pay off. Conditions today have been as bad as I can remember on the Rally GB: even the road sections were slippery! But I've really enjoyed today and I am aiming for another strong run tomorrow."
Ostberg had been second until he spun his Adapta-run Impreza WRC car in SS6. However he still ended the day in front of the 'works' Subaru driven by Petter Solberg.
Further down the order Dani Sordo and Francois Duval came in sixth and seventh, while Henning Solberg is eighth.
Sebastien Ogier and Matt Wilson rounded out the top ten, the former having had a great day in his semi-privateer C4 WRC. Indeed Ogier was sensational and made the most of his more favourable position on the road early on. He led until SS5 when he was stopped briefly with a gearbox problem.
Of the other runners Toni Gardemeister lies 11th - with Barry Clark 12th, one spot ahead of current P-WRC leader Guy Wilks.
Wilks is competing for both Production honours and points in the British Rally Championship this weekend - although with the title up for grabs in the BRC that is very much more his focus than the P-WRC.
Guy currently leads the P-WRC by almost 30 seconds, with Patrik Flodin second – he is also registered for points in both the P-WRC and BRC – and then Andreas Aigner third.
In terms of retirements a number of runners had problems and went out - most noticeably Chris Atkinson, who crashed heavily in SS7. Atkinson hit his head in the incident and was taken to hospital for precautionary checks.
Day 1 of the WRGB also claimed a number of scalps in the PWRC, including Mark Higgins, who crashed in SS3 and Juho Hanninen, who got stuck in a water splash in SS6.
For the record, MotoGP star Valentino Rossi is still going – he finished day 1 in 24th position.
The action now continues on Saturday with seven stages on the bill and just under 130 competitive kilometres. SS9, the 30.68 kilometre Resolfen 1 test, starts at 08.18 hours local time.
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