Former Mitsubishi and Peugeot works driver, Harri Rovanpera contested his first WRC event of 2006 over the weekend, when he made his debut with the Red Bull Skoda squad on the Rallye de France-Tour de Corse, the fifth round in this year's championship.

Although it was never going to be an easy event, since the Finn had not competed since Rally Australia at the end of 2005, he put in a solid performance, eventually bringing the Fabia WRC home in twelfth place and picking up two manufacturers' points in the process.

It was especially good as not only is he more of a gravel ace, but he also wasn't 100 per cent match fit.

"The rally was very tough for me from the beginning," he reflected. "To drive a completely new car for a new team on asphalt after an elongated break isn't easy. Additionally I was rather hampered by the flu. Now I'm looking forward to the gravel stages of Sardinia, we will do better there for sure."

Rovanpera's team-mate, Andreas Aigner meanwhile finished 15th in the sister car, after re-starting Sunday under the SupeRally format. As such the team managed to score three manufacturers' points, something that puts them 1 point ahead of the Stobart VK team in the constructors' championship. While that fact pleased team boss, Armin Schwarz he still had mixed feelings.

"We expected a slightly better result from our drivers," he confirmed. "But an accident like Andreas' can always happen and Harri first had to familiarise himself with the car and the team. We are happy that we gained three points in the manufacturers' championship and were thus able to improve our position. Now we will prepare for the WRC event in Sardinia where Red Bull Skoda will compete next [in May]."

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