Positive 1st day for Skoda

Positive 1st day for SkodaFrom Skoda Press [ 29/04/2005 ].
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Škoda Motorsport World Rally Team drivers Armin Schwarz and Janne Tuohino hold eighth and 15th places respectively after the opening day of Rally Italia-Sardinia, the fifth round of the 2005 World Rally Championship. Today’s opening leg was run under clear blue skies and in temperatures of close to 30 degrees at times.

Over today’s six stages run to the south of the rally base at Olbia (including one that used roads within a prison complex) Armin set top 10 times on four stages. Janne suffered a gear selection problem this morning but climbed the leaderboard this afternoon and also got into the top 10 times.

The fast and flowing roads of the last WRC round in New Zealand have given way to Sardinia’s narrow, twisty and rough tracks with large rocks ready to destroy suspension on any cars that stray from the most precise line as several drivers discovered to their cost today.

Tomorrow’s leg features six more stages again located south of Olbia including two runs over the longest stage of the event, the 38.77kms Tandalo stage. The leg includes 74.51kms of stages in a total route of 241.39kms.

Quotes:

Armin Schwarz: “It has generally been a very good day for me. We found a good set-up in our pre-rally test and that has been right for today’s stages. The roads are incredibly narrow and rough with deep ruts that you can not escape from. I’ve got a lot of confidence in the car’s handling but I lost some time this afternoon with punctures. I think we can maintain our performance tomorrow.”

Janne Tuohino: “This morning I had trouble with the gear-shift system and so it was tough to fight back this afternoon. I had hoped to finish just outside the top 15 but the other drivers were able to adjust their pace and it means I must start first on the road tomorrow which will not be so easy, especially in the morning. In the afternoon there should be more grip but the roads will be rougher.”

Martin Muehlmeier (Head of Škoda Motorsport): “We have a lot to be positive about tonight and I think our optimism about these Mediterranean events is proving correct at the moment. Armin has driven well and got the result he deserves but it is a shame for Janne who could have been very close to the same position. There is still a long way to go and as we saw today things can change very quickly.”