Hanninen extends lead in Russia

Hanninen extends lead in RussiaFrom IRC media [ 11/07/2008 ].
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Juho Hanninen has stretched his lead of the Rally Russia to nearly two minutes, with just four stages left to run during the final leg tomorrow. The action was once more split into two loops of two stages, containing some of the longest – and roughest – stages of the rally. Despite the tough conditions Hanninen won every stage apart from one today, helped partially by his position of first on the road, which meant that the roads did not cut up quite so badly for him during the morning. With several rocks emerging through the soft and sandy surfaces, drivers had to pick their way through the worst of the obstacles, treading a fine compromise between speed and safety. The weather remained dry and warm apart from the last stage, which was characterised by rain.

“We only had one small problem, with the exhaust in the morning,” reported Hanninen, who
is making his debut in a Super 2000 car on this event. “Apart from that everything was fine. I
felt a bit more at ease with the car today, so we were able to drive at a sensible pace. But
there’s still a lot that can happen tomorrow, so I am not getting over-excited.”

Giandomenico Basso started the day in second, but had some brake problems in the
morning that robbed him of confidence, dropping him down the order. This promoted
Kopecky to second place, but the Czech driver picked up a front-left puncture early in the
longest stage of the rally, SS7, which he was forced to stop and change. This episode cost
him nearly four minutes. In the meantime, a fastest time for Anton Alen boosted the Abarth
driver up to second overall where he remained until the end of the leg, despite having a slow
puncture on the penultimate stage.

Basso salvaged third, despite having some big problems with visibility when the rain on the
final stage caused his windscreen to mist over. The Peugeot Belgium cars of Freddy Loix
and Nicolas Vouilloz deliberately drove sensibly today in order to stay out of trouble and
guarantee a solid points haul with fourth and fifth places. “It’s not how I enjoy driving and I
know we can go quicker,” said Loix, the winner of the last IRC round in his native Belgium.
“But on these roads you have to drive to the limit of the conditions rather than the car.”

Englishman Guy Wilks continued to hold a comfortable lead of the IRC 2WD Cup
classification in his Honda Civic Type R R3, but he stopped for nearly an hour on the final
stage with an electrical problem. It is his intention to re-start under the super rally rules for
tomorrow’s final leg, which takes in around 60 competitive kilometres over for more stages.

The definitive retirements included former World Rally Champion Didier Auriol, who was out
on the first stage of the day due to brake problems. Mitsubishi driver and local expert Andrej
Zhighunov also went out after hitting a rock, but his team hope to repair the damage and get
the car out again tomorrow. The top local man is now Ivan Mironov, in his Mitsubishi Lancer.

IRC results after SS8, Rally Russia
1 Hanninen/Markkula Peugeot 207 S2000 1h36m26.0s
2 Alen/Alanne Abarth Grande Punto +1m54.1s
3 Basso/Dotta Abarth Grande Punto +2m27.4s
4 Loix/Buysmans Peugeot 207 S2000 +2m51.9s
5 Vouilloz/Klinger Peugeot 207 S2000 +4m28.8s
6 Kopecky/Stary Peugeot 207 S2000 +5m02.2s
7 Tirabassi/Gordon Peugeot 207 S2000 +6m06.8s
8 Mironov/Denisov Mitsubishi Lancer (N) +12m21.0s
9 Antropov/Sharipov Mitsubishi Lancer (N) +13m39.0s
10 Yadov/Edimov Mitsubishi Lancer (N) +18m11.1s

Two-wheel drive leader: Guy Wilks (Honda Civic Type R R3)

TV Times
Eurosport will broadcast the Rally Russia regularly, and it is also possible to watch the rally
live on www.rally-irc.com, and the Yahoo Eurosport platform thanks to Eurosport’s live
streaming system. To watch, simply log onto the website and click on the ‘watch live
streaming’ message in the flash news banner. Alternatively, click on the flag of your preferred
language in the Yahoo Eurosport box. All times listed below are Central European Times.
There are two live streaming broadcasts on Friday and two on Saturday. At the end of each
leg, there will be on-demand video highlights posted in the ‘video highlights’ section.
Friday 11 July
11.15-11.45 LIVE (Eurosport 2)
17.30-18.00 LIVE (Eurosport)
Regular repeats overnight on Eurosport 2 until 07.30
Saturday 12 July
10.00-10.30 LIVE (Eurosport 2)
17.30-18.00 LIVE (Eurosport)
Regular repeats overnight on Eurosport 2 until 07.30