From Ben Mulkern [ 04/10/2002 ].
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Well, it isn't Gilles Panizzi's name at the head of the leaderboard, however the rest of the details of the first day of the Rally of New Zealand might lead you to think that we are still in San Remo ... world champion Richard Burns (pictured) leads the field from Harri Rovanpera with Marcus Gronholm in third, a Peugeot super-trio which has left the rest of the pack reeling. However, the drive of the day has come from Jani Paasonen in the Mitsubishi, who has put Delecour to shame with an outstanding fifth place at the close of leg one - at Ford, the misery continues as Colin McRae departed the rally on the long Whaanga Coast run, as he "mis-heard" a note and slid wide, holing his radiator.
“I misheard a pace note and went into a downhill right hand bend in third gear instead of second,” explained McRae. “We slid off and hit a fence post. It wasn’t even a car’s length off the road but the post damaged the radiator and when we tried to get the car out, the engine started to overheat. I didn’t want to damage the engine any further so I turned it off. I’m not sure we would have got back on the road anyway but, if we had, I don’t think the car would have reached the service park.”
Subaru's Tommi Makinen and Petter Solberg lie in fifth and sixth, just three seconds apart. More follows.