Marcus Claims Provisional Podium

From Peugeot Press [ 12/03/2004 ].
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Marcus Gronholm has finished the opening leg of the all-new Rally Mexico in second overall, on the provisional podium at the end of day one. Marcus had a fast and reliable run throughout today's four stages and is confident of another strong performance tomorrow. His team mate Harri Rovanpera, making a return to the Peugeot team after an absence of two rallies, has ended day one in sixth. Marcus's Peugeot 307 WRC had no major mechanical problems on its gravel debut. The Finn felt that he could have chosen harder tyres for the opening loop of stages in the morning but his tyre choice was good for the afternoon's stages and he ends the leg just eight seconds behind the leader.

"Today has been fine, but I still don't think I have 100% confidence," said Marcus. "It's been a reasonably productive four stages, but there is still more to come from myself and the car. This morning's conditions were quite tricky, but I think we can try some different things tomorrow that will help us. The car is still very new and we just have to work with what we've got for now."

Harri used today to get fully up to speed with the car and the event, but he had a problem on the morning's loop of stages with overheating brakes. The problem came back in the afternoon, and his car also became stuck in fourth gear at the end of the last stage. But as it was a fast stage he did not lose too much time, and Harri is still optimistic about his chances over the rest of the rally.

"It's not been an easy day as we've had a lot of problems," said Harri, who won the Rally Mexico two years ago. "But the main thing is that we are still in a competitive position, and I plan to make the most of it. The car is still quite new to me, so we are making progress all the time. I'm feeling more and more confident and there's a long way to go."

Tomorrow's action consists of six special stages totalling 154 competitive kilometres. The first car leaves Parc Ferme in Leon at 0800 and returns at 2100.