Peugeot driver Marcus Gronholm has ended the first leg of the Rally Great Britain in a strong third place, and is well-placed to challenge for outright victory over the remaining two days. His team mate Harri Rovanpera has finished leg one in a points-scoring eighth.

Rally Great Britain was run in September for the first time this year, but any hope that an earlier date would lead to milder weather was in vain, as rain characterised the opening gravel stages.

This made the route extremely slippery and favoured the first car on the road. But as the stages dried out in the afternoon, Gronholm was able to take advantage of his position further down the starting order and close in on the front. He set one fastest time today, and enjoyed perfect reliability from his Peugeot 307 WRC.

"Everything's gone very well so far," he said. "It was so slippery in the morning, but we made the perfect tyre choice and tried not to take any risks. As the stages dried out we could go faster, but I was not so happy with the handling at the rear of the car during the first run through the long stage in the afternoon. We made some small changes at service, and it felt a lot better on the second run through Rheola. The most important thing is that the car has been reliable and we are close to the front. We'll be attacking again tomorrow."

Rovanpera did not feel so confident over the opening loop of stages, although he was not able to precisely put his finger on the problem. He made some set-up changes at service and found a much better feeling with the car, although he suffered a gearbox problem on the final stage after hitting a rock.

"It wasn't a perfect start but now we are finding a good feeling," said Harri. "I was surprised at just how slippery it was with the rain in the morning. As the day went on we were able to go better and better. This is always an incredibly tough rally and anything can still happen."

Daniel Carlsson, making his debut in the 307 WRC, endured some tough times over the opening leg. He was held back in the morning stages when rubber came off his tyres, but he slid into retirement on Rheola 1 on a left-hand corner. The young Sweden hopes to re-start tomorrow under the trial of the new Super Rally rules.

"We were just a little too fast on a long downhill section, so we slid wide on a left hand corner and dropped the back of the car into a ditch," he explained. "We got stuck and the spectators tried to push us out, but there weren't quite enough of them and we burnt out the clutch. I'm really disappointed: it's been a frustrating day."

Leg two gets underway at 0715, with competitors facing eight more challenging Welsh stages.



Loading Comments...