From Adrian Kirk-Burnnand [ 22/09/2001 ].
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The first stage of the second leg, one of the longest stages, saw rally leader Kennith Eriksson drop to eight place and Richard Burns climb the same number of positions to take the lead! It seems Richard was placed in just the right spot to take advantage of the best stage conditions. He's now extending his lead with each stage and if he continues at this pace he could well have a large enough lead to hold off the challengers behind who will have better road positions on the final leg.
Richard Burns: “I’m very pleased with my time. It was my aim last night to be leading the rally after the first stage today. It was a bit easier on tyres than I thought it was going to be, and if I’d pushed harder at the start I think I could have made another 10 seconds.”
Richard's team-mate Petter Solberg has not been as fortunate : “20 kms before the finish line we had a front left-hand puncture and we got some vibration from that. I was concerned about tyre wear during the stage, and perhaps took it a bit too easy. I should really have gone flat-out.”
Harri Rovenpera is the other big mover at the moment and after SS13 he is third after just taking Carlos Sainz's position.
Quotes after SS13:
Richard Burns: “I had a bit of a moment on that last stage (SS13). We were pushing very hard and on a sixth gear right-hand corner the car slid wide to the outside of the road and into a ditch. We hit a bank and the car jumped up onto two wheels, but we left it in sixth and pulled ourselves back out onto the stage. We’re driving at 110% at the moment, but it’s difficult to know how much of a lead we’ll need to take into tomorrow.”
Petter Solberg: “It’s going OK, but we’ve nothing really to report. There was a lot of deep gravel on that last group of stages, but the driving is feeling better now than it was on the first stage.”
Toshi Arai: “We had a spin on a narrow section of SS12, and lost about 25 seconds getting back onto the stage. But for me, this rally is all about learning and experience. I feel that my performance, and the lines I’m taking around the cambered corners has improved a great deal, and I’m concentrating now on linking this together with the high speed sections.”
Stay tuned for more news soon.