Suzuki driver Daniel Carlsson is leading the Junior World Rally Championship [JWRC] classification at the end of an action-packed first day of the Rally Great Britain. Ville-Pertti Teuronen is fifth in another Suzuki, ahead of Urmo Aava in seventh and Salvador Canellas in a points-scoring eighth place.

Great Britain is the final round of the JWRC, and one of the most challenging gravel rallies of the entire series. The roads are rough and rutted, and become more challenging as they cut up for the later runners. Grip and traction is always hard to find, and the weather conditions usually don't help. However, today was mostly dry even though the stages remained slippery. Today's action consisted of six fast stages, including the first run through the longest test of the rally - Resolfen, at 47.55 kilometres. The total competitive distance was 164.24km.

Carlsson had a good run throughout today's stages, setting 3 fastest stage times with no mechanical problems for most of the day. The only slight setback he suffered was losing sixth gear on SS6, but the nature of the stage meant that he did not drop too much time. The gearbox was changed at final service before the spectator superspecial, so it should not cause any further problems. Carlsson enjoyed today's action and is looking forward to more of the same tomorrow.

"We wanted to come into this rally to try and win, and so far everything's going to plan," said Carlsson, "The Suzuki Ignis has proved to be both tough and strong so I'm very happy with the way things have gone so far. The problem with sixth gear was a slight worry at the time, but it was the sort of stage where this was not too much of a problem. I'm attacking hard, but trying not to take too many risks."

Teuronen had a clean run today, but hit a gearbox problem on SS5 that cost him some seconds. Nonetheless, he managed to get the car to service where the gearbox was changed in record time, allowing him to rejoin the rally without any additional road penalties. Teuronen felt quite confident in the Welsh forests, as the dry and gravelly surfaces reminded him a bit of events in his native Finland.

"So far things have gone quite well, although I suppose we could have done without the problem with the gearbox," he noted, "Apart from that the car really hasn't missed a beat all day. The surfaces are very slippery and it would be easy to get caught out, but the Ignis gives me a lot of confidence. The plan is to push hard tomorrow and see what we can achieve. I hope the weather stays dry, as this gives everyone more of a level playing field."

Canellas was also hit by gearbox problems this afternoon, after a fault-free opening loop of stages. A gearbox change after SS5 took slightly longer than anticipated and he unfortunately picked up 40 seconds of road penalties. Salvador still has an outside chance of taking the JWRC title on this rally, although he will need to rely on a bit of luck as well. The Spaniard enjoyed his run through today's challenging stages and is looking forward to increasing his gravel experience tomorrow.

"It's an incredibly demanding rally, where you can't draw any conclusions up," commented Canellas, "The gearbox was sticking in the afternoon, but apart from that we've had no problems all day. The dry conditions make an interesting change on the Rally Great Britain - normally it's pouring down with rain! But we're already in a points-scoring place and hopefully we can do even better tomorrow."

Aava has had a good day which has been entirely free of mechanical dramas. The Estonian has been learning a lot about rallying in these unique conditions, and hopes to capitalise on his new-found experience to move further up the leaderboard tomorrow. After the problems that affected his team-mates, Aava's gearbox was changed as a precaution and he too picked up a minute's road penalties. His car is now on top form for tomorrow's action though.

"The Rally Great Britain is a tough event to learn, but we're getting there," noted Aava, "The main thing is to complete the event and accumulate as much experience as possible for the future. Our car seems very well suited to these conditions, as you can see from the times than Daniel is setting."

Suzuki team manager Risto Laine commented: "We've got four cars in the rally, which is an improvement over last year! Even better, those four cars are all in the points and one of them is leading. We've had a couple of gearbox-related problems today, but I'm quite confident that we're on top of them now. Today was always going to be the toughest day of the rally as it contains nearly half the stage mileage, but the plan for tomorrow is the same - flat out!"

Tomorrow the drivers will tackle eight more stages including another run through Resolfen, making 138 competitive kilometres in total. The first car leaves parc ferme at 0500 (GMT) and returns to Parc Ferme in Cardiff at 2013, after a final run through the spectator superspecial.

 

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