Suzuki driver Daniel Carlsson is in a strong second place after a fast and furious opening day of asphalt action on the Sanremo Rally. Carlsson ends the day behind local expert Mirco Baldacci following an excellent drive.

Suzuki's Salvador Canellas is eighth, while the other remaining Suzuki of Ville-Pertti Teuronen ends the day in ninth place. Sadly, the fourth Suzuki of Urmo Aava was forced to retire on SS6 with driveshaft failure.

Sanremo is round five of the Junior World Rally Championship, and it is widely regarded as one of the most challenging asphalt rallies in the world. Some early morning fog made driving conditions even more difficult than usual, but despite some clouds the weather remained dry and humid. Today's action consisted of six stages run over the twisty mountain roads to the north of San Remo.

Carlsson enjoyed a clean, fast run with no mechanical dramas. He was happy with his car throughout the opening leg, and plans to consolidate his position tomorrow. Following Brice Tirabassi's accident on the first loop of stages, Carlsson ran in second throughout today's action.

"You can never be happy when things go badly for a fellow competitor, but the problem for Brice Tirabassi puts me right back in the championship fight," noted Carlsson, "I have to say that the car was perfect for me today, but this rally will be all about driving with my head rather than my right foot. I don't care if I don't set any fastest stage times: I just need to ensure a good result."

Teuronen tried to play himself into the action gently, but he was not so happy with his times. Mechanically the car had no major problems, but he felt that he was not driving to the best of his abilities. On SS2 he suffered from overheating brakes and struggled to find some confidence on the new asphalt.

"This is not an easy rally for me, but I think the biggest problem is in my head," commented Teuronen, "I have had a couple of accidents on rallies recently so I need to make sure I get to the finish more than anything else. I keep on thinking about that and it means that maybe I am not driving naturally. Ok, we are still here and there is a long way to go. Tomorrow is another day."

Canellas made the most of his extensive asphalt experience today, but was not happy with the set-up of his car. He made some adjustments at service after the first two stages and found that it worked much better. But he dropped time on SS5 with a puncture that cost four minutes when he had to stop and change.

"It's been an educational experience today," said Canellas, "but it's a shame I had the puncture. It was my fault - I hit a rock. Without that we could have done well I think, but there's a long way to go still."

Aava meanwhile made a promising start to the rally, but was forced to retire with a driveshaft failure on SS6. He was lying seventh when a driveshaft unexpectedly failed.

"It's very disappointing to retire in this way as it was a rally I really wanted to do well on," noted Aava, "So far, I think I was doing a good job but these things sometimes happen."

Monster Sport Europe team manager Risto Laine concluded: "Speed-wise, we've actually been a bit better than I expected us to be. It's a shame Salvador had the problem and Urmo retired, but we've still got a long way to go and every possibility of doing well."

 

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