Motorsport News - Rally
Loeb and Elena lead Day 1 in Finland
6th August 2012
Last years winners in the country of a thousand lakes, Sbastien Loeb and Daniel Elena were certainly not taking it easy on the first leg of Rally Finland. After winning two of the first three stages, the eight-time World Champions already top the overall standings, 7.3s ahead of their team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen. With less than ten seconds between the top six crews, the rest of the rally promises to be very close.
With over 500 kilometres to cover in total, but with only 30km of timed stages, day one of Rally Finland was a long and tiring day, if not totally exhausting. After leaving the service park just after lunch, the competitors headed for Lahti, 200km to the south of Jyvskyl. Cheered on by the crowds, the WRC stars tackled the Koukunmaa test before taking on the Jokimaa super special stage. The return trip featured Mynnil, the third stage of the day. The cars finally made it back to the service park at 10.30pm!
Having set the fastest time on the days two proper stages, unsurprisingly Sbastien Loeb grabbed the overall lead in a rally that he has already won twice: After going fastest in qualifying, I cannot but be pleased to have continued my good form and to lead the rally this evening! I wanted to set off at a strong pace on SS1, because the level of grip was good and I felt very good in the car. I am especially pleased with my time on SS3, because it went perfectly. I pushed hard and didnt hold back at all. I couldnt have gone any faster! As confirmed during the tests we did last weekend, the DS3 WRC is ideal for these roads. We mustnt get too carried away, however, this first leg was just a taster for what is to come. The two remaining legs will be much more difficult and the other leading contenders are just a few seconds behind.
Sixth on stage one, Mikko Hirvonen moved up into second position after SS3. 7.3s behind his team-mate, the rallys local driver refused to be upset: Todays result is pretty much in line with my plans. Last year, I was over two minutes behind the leader at the end of day one. This time, Im only seven seconds adrift so I have definitely made progress! I didnt want to take any unnecessary risks in the first few kilometres, although I did run wide onto the verge a few times on Mynnil Ill have to stay on the road tomorrow! I am sure that its going to be an interesting scrap to watch.
Thierry Neuville surprised everyone with a top-level performance to finish third on SS1. Fifth overall, 9s behind Loeb, the Citron Junior World Rally Team driver is still very aware of the immense challenge facing him here: The car moved around a lot on the first stage and I was almost surprised to finish third. I think I lost a lot a bit of time at the start of SS3, because my pace notes werent accurate enough. I wanted to start the race at a good pace, so its very good to be among the leaders.
For his first day of racing in a DS3 WRC, Chris Atkinson finished in seventh place in his Qatar World Rally Team car: I am really pleased with my start. Ive lost a little time, but its still reasonable given my lack of experience with Citron. I have to improve my driving to iron out the minor mistakes.
TAGGED AS : WRC Team MINI Portugal , WRC, World Rally Championship, Rally Finland, Sebastien Loeb, Loeb, Elena, Citroen DS3, Hirvonen, Lehtinen, Latvala, Anttila, Ford Fiesta RS, Solberg, Patterson, M Ostberg, J Andersson, Tnak, K Sikk, Rantanen, M Lukka, J Ketomaa, M Stenberg, M Prokop, Z Hrůza, S Ogier, J Ingrassia, Skoda Fabia S2000, motorsport news, rally news, A. Arajo, M. Ramalho, miniP. Nobre, E.Paula ,
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