Strong debut for Red Bull Skoda

Strong debut for Red Bull SkodaFrom Skoda Press [ 20/01/2006 ].
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Quite a positive first day for the Red Bull Skoda Team. After lying second overall this morning, local hero Gilles Panizzi managed P4 at the end of the day despite a spin in Special Stage 6: "Unfortunately I had a spin at the exit of the very first corner of SS 6. Even before that the car handled rather twitchy, so I lost some time there. In spite of this mishap I am pretty content, especially with this morning’s round, and I hope for a similar performance tomorrow."

Because of a traffic jam on the access roads to SS 1, only 11 cars contested the first two stages, so Andreas Aigner saw his first competitive action on Special Stage 4: "I was very comfortable and ran the stages without any unnecessary risk. By choosing intermediates I took a safety-first approach with tyres as well. My first duty has to be finishing my first world championship event in the Skoda Fabia WRC and show a respectable performance. With each and every kilometre I am able to gain further experience, which I hope will come to good use later on."

Red Bull Skoda’s two team bosses, Raimund Baumschlager and Armin Schwarz, were equally impressed by the crews’ effort: "It was important to be competitive right from the start of our very first world championship rally, reinforcing the self-confidence of the whole team. We knew Panizzi would be quick in Monte Carlo, but to see Andreas cope as well confirms our decision to provide him with a WRC."

Finn Marcus Gronholm (Ford WRC) has an overnight lead of one minute 23.7 seconds over Australia’s Chris Atkinson (Subaru WRC) after world champion Loeb went off on a patch of ice during SS 6. Finn Toni Gardemeister (Peugeot WRC) lies third, 1:27.1 min back, fourth Gilles Panizzi (FRA), Skoda Fabia WRC, +1:34.6, in fifth Manfred Stohl (AUT), Peugeot WRC, 1:39.1 behind Gronholm. Andreas Aigner (Skoda Fabia WRC) is in 14th place, 6:07.9 minutes back.