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Home :: Rally-Tecnica :: News :: Wales Rally Gb. Day 1. More swimming than racing


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Wales Rally Gb. Day 1. More swimming than racing

The first “full-sized” competition day of Wales Rally GB had begun with a early wakeup, as the competitors had to leave Cardiff at 6 am, heading to the first “forest” stage in Central Wales through a 160 km long road section, where even a couple of refueling points were planned.

And it was pretty good, that the crews had enough time to wake up during a long way for the SS2 Hafren, as the stage itself was as long as impressive 32 kilometers. Jari-Matti Latvala seemed to have the best wakeup (or probably the best among all those ho had to wake up), as he was fastest on the opening morning stage. Loeb couldn’t avoid some small mistakes and dropped to 3rd position. The biggest lost here was for Matthew Wilson who was also keen to be successful on his home event and has ambitious plans to complete the rally in top 5, as he spun and stalled the engine, spending about 15 seconds to restart the car.

The short stage on the Sweet Lamb test track led to the change of the rally leader, when Latvala lost 4 seconds after the water splash as his engine caught some water, taking some time to come back to a proper working again. And these 4 seconds were enough here for the Finn to drop from the leading position. But not for too long, as at the next stage Jari-Matti was fastest again and regained the leadership before the midday break. It was already clear by that time that we could hardly wait for some sensations. Only four crews were tight in a fight within 8 seconds, all the others were far, far away. Guess it is very easy to name these four! Yes, they were Loeb, Latvala, P.Solberg and Ogier. The next “micro-group” including Hirvonen and Sordo dropped about 25 seconds from the leader, but then H.Solberg, Ostberg and Wilson had more than 2 minute gap! And that is after the first section only! The muddy conditions caused the extra difficulties even for the every following car, as the ruts were becoming more and more noticeable.

Wales Rally GB day 1 S.Loeb

And for the second run through the same loop of stages things even became worse for everybody. The strong rain that could be even called a “torrential” one, immediately added a plenty of water to all the difficulties of the road. The ruts were also immediately filled with water, making the cars aquaplaning very noticeable. But still the speeds were high and the results of the second run through Hafren were quite close to the times set in the morning. There came a big scare for Dani Sordo, as Citroen Junior driver had a spin in a 6th gear corner, being happy to stop the car still on the road and in the right direction. Though Loeb complained about he could do nothing better in these conditions, the fortune was on the side of 7 times Title winner again, as Latvala dropped down to the sixth position after a puncture on the final stage of the day. So the top three was occupied by the three Citroens by the end of the day, and these were Loeb, Solberg and Ogier. 3,6 seconds difference inside top 3 was a huge contrast with all the other figures: Henning Solberg, who completed the day in sixth position already was over huge 2,5 minutes adrift from the leading group!

Wales Rally GB Day 1 A.Mikkelsen

In the S-WRC category the strong leadership was established by Andreas Mikkelsen, who lost only one stage of 6 in his Skoda, and that only “non-Mikkelsen’s” best time was set by Jari Ketomaa. The Finn seemes to remain the only one who still had a chance for the attack for the leading position, as he is “only” 32 seconds back from Andreas. Just compare: all the others are already more than two minutes behind. And the most unlucky day came to the fast Swede Patrick Sandell, who had to drive the entire second section with his power steering broken, and now lays 7th (and the last) in the category instead of the fight for the win.


Wales Rally GB 2010 Day 1 P.Flodin

The P-WRC category still has the chance of non-predictable results, despite the season’s leader Armindo Araujo tries to avoid any possible risks. What does he need, indeed – to be at the finish line only, so the Portuguese Mitsubishi ace is keeping his own comfortable rhythm, not losing too much, but without any intense to attack for the leading position. While Armindo’s strategy could be called the “defensive” one, you would nether say the same about Patrick Flodin. He has a slight chance for the PWRC title in the case of Araujo’s non-finish, but the Swede has to win anyway. Though the Flodin’s story changed dramatically at the very last stage of the day, where he lost his confident leadership with over a minute reserve, and immediately dropped to third after damaging the steering of his Russian-prepared Impreza. Now the 2009 Russian Champion has to start from the very beginning, as he is 1,5 seconds behind his Portuguese rival. And he also has to overtake the rising Estonian Star Ott Tanak now too. The Estonian started the day in his Pirelli Star Lancer with a batch of technical problems, but having overcome them – increased the speed and improved his position. So now it is Tanak, who leading the P-WRC category after Flodin’s trouble. And the fight seems quite far from being over here, as at least 4 crews are going quite close, and the times’ difference could be quite big on every stage for the Production cars in these difficult conditions.



Wales Rally GB 2010 Day1 O.Tanak

Anton Borisenko, specially forURT.RU

Photo: Petr Elias (www.ewrc.cz)