Schwarz Leads Hyundai Charge

From Hyundai Press [ 28/02/2003 ].
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Hyundai World Rally Team crews Armin Schwarz/Manfred Hiemer and Freddy Loix/Sven Smeets made an excellent start to their first Rally of Turkey, the third round of the 2003 FIA World Rally Championship, bringing their Accent WRC³s to overnight parc ferme in eighth and ninth positions overall respectively. Armin Schwarz and Manfred Hiemer set a blistering pace on leg one rewarding them with second place overall by the end of special stage four. Armin began the day carefully, knowing the rough conditions would be challenging, but on the longer stages of the morning – SS2 and SS3 – he managed to set fourth and second fastest times respectively, promoting his Hyundai Accent WRC³ from 12th to second position overall.

Unfortunately Armin did not escape the potential threat of the rocks and reached the end of the fourth stage with damage to the exhaust, also forcing him and co-driver Manfred to inhale fumes en route to the finish.

Armin explained, “The cars in front of us are causing the road to become badly rutted pulling up rocks which means there are quite a few surprises. You actually have no choice most of the time but to go over the top of them, which is where the danger arises of damaging something. We damaged the exhaust which caused fumes in the car – a bit like Rally GB last year although nowhere near as bad – so I had to slow down a bit. My eyes were watering a bit but I was ok.”

Hyundai World Rally Team mechanics changed the main part of the exhaust which goes over the sub-frame, a job which was so big it forced the crew to incur a 20-second penalty for leaving service two minutes late.

“I was driving at the maximum – the stages here are different but interesting. This morning felt good but it was more difficult on the last two stages. As we had so much work to do in service we couldn’t change the front shock absorbers and they were really getting tired during SS5 and SS6. At one point in stage five we had to go up the bank just to get around a huge rock that was in the road. At least the last stage was cleaner the second time through it,” explained the 38-year-old German.

Belgian team-mates Freddy Loix and Sven Smeets picked up their pace throughout the day. Changes to the suspension set-up during service gave way to a seventh fastest stage time in SS4 promoting the pair to ninth place, and a fifth fastest stage time in SS5 ensured they held position.

Freddy described his day, “The dampers went off this morning about 10km before the end of SS4 and to be honest we struggled to get to the end as it was incredibly rough. But we made some changes to the suspension in service and the handling felt much better during the afternoon. We set better times until SS6 and even though the turbo blew near the end of the stage, we didn’t lose too many seconds from it.”

Leg two of the rally is by far the longest of the event with crews leaving par ferme at 06:00hrs. Once again crews head into the rough stages of the Anatolian Mountains which rise steeply to the west of Kemer, home to the single service park for the rally, to cover 158.52 competitive kilometres over seven special stages before reaching overnight parc ferme at 18:24hrs.

1. ROVANPERA, Harri Peugeot 206 WRC
2. SAINZ , Carlos Citröen Xsara WRC
3. DUVAL, François Ford Focus WRC
4. MAKINEN, Tommi Subaru Impreza WRC
5. PANIZZI, Gilles Peugeot 206 WRC
6. BURNS, Richard Peugeot 206 WRC
7. McRAE, Colin Citröen Xsara WRC
8. SCHWARZ, Armin Hyundai Accent WRC
9. LOIX, Freddy Hyundai Accent WRC
10. GARDEMEISTER, Toni Skoda Octavia WRC
19. GRONHOLM, Marcus Peugeot 206 WRC

22. PYKALISTO, Juuso Peugeot 206 WRC