Sardegna Three 207 in top Five

Sardegna Three 207 in top FiveFrom Peugeot Press [ 09/06/2010 ].
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The opening day of the 2010 Rally d'Italia Sardegna was dominated by 207 Super 2000 drivers Kris Meeke and Paolo Andreucci. The following day saw the Briton crash out, however, while the Italian had to settle for second place after being caught and passed by Finland's Hänninen. Two other Peugeot 207 S2000s finished in fourth and fifth places in the hands of Belgian Thierry Neuville and Portuguese driver Bruno Magalhaès.

Andreucci and Meeke lead before falling back


Saturday's action in Sardinia ended with Peugeot Italy's Paolo Andreucci on top of the provisional leaderboard with a 7.4-second lead over fellow 207 Super 2000 driver Kris Meeke in the Peugeot UK-backed car. Finland's Juho Hänninen followed a further 3.9s back.

One the first of Sunday's six stages, though, Andreucci dropped a full 21.4s to the Ulsterman. "I don't know what happened," said the Italian. "My rhythm wasn't good and I soon realised that my driving wasn't perfect, but I didn't seem to be able to switch back to a more flowing style…"


This momentary lapse caused the four-time Italian Champion to drop two places, handing top spot to Meeke, who was in turn passed by Hänninen who emerged 3.9s clear after SS9. The next stage saw Meeke crash out of the event. "I had dropped 10.1s on the first attempt at SS9 and I was worried that I would lose more time on the afternoon's pass, so I wanted to retrieve the lead to give myself a little breathing space," explained the Briton. "Unfortunately, halfway into SS10, I braked a little late for a right-hand corner which preceded a tight left-hander. My wheels left the clean line and I slid on some loose gravel. My car came to a halt on its side. It was in one piece – except for the windscreen which had shattered when we hit the tree that stopped us in our tracks – but it wasn't possible to get it back onto the stage. It was my fault. I was second and I absolutely wanted to win. To my mind, that's what rallying is all about. I took a risk and its didn't pay off. I am very sorry, because the technical staff at Peugeot Sport and Kronos Racing worked so hard to give me such a competitive car. That said, I'm still in the running for the title, because only your seven best results count towards the final points table. There are still seven rounds to come and I've got one win under my belt already, so there's still everything to play for."


Andreucci claims highest number of stage wins


To be sure of not throwing away second place, Andreucci drove carefully over the last two tests of the final three-stage loop, but that didn't prevent him from completing the event with the highest number of stage wins to his name, i.e. five from a possible 12. "That suggests we could have won," noted Paolo. "For that, though, we would have needed to put in a perfect run… and ours was only almost perfect…"


Kopecky collected third place ahead of Thierry Neuville in the Peugeot Belgium-Luxemburg run 207 Super 2000. "This is a great result for me," commented the 21-year old Belgian driver. "It was only my fourth ever gravel rally, my first in a 4x4 car and my first with the 207 Super 2000. I was on a big upward learning curve and my team asked me to build up speed gradually. I've never contested such a tough rally, with such narrow stages and so many potential pitfalls. I'm really pleased to have reached the finish with the car in one piece. With all the problems that befell many of the other drivers, I am fourth, and that's given me my first five points for Peugeot. Fantastic!"


Bruno Magalhaès profited from the second leg to recover from the handicap of being first on the road on Day 1 and fight his way back from 10th to fifth place. "I lost all chance of a better result when a damper failed four kilometres into Saturday morning's first stage," related the Peugeot Portugal driver. "To stay on the road after that, I had to do quite a lot of left-foot braking. My brakes ended up overheating and I eventually lost them altogether." The damper problem and brakes were repaired at the first leg's lunchtime service halt but the work cost him two and a half minutes in road penalties which dropped him to 23rd place. Magalhaès spent the remainder of the rally trying to climb back up the leaderboard.


A very high number of drivers were slowed by misfortunes of one sort or another, including Sébastien Ogier whose Peugeot Italy-entered 207 S2000 picked up a puncture on Saturday morning, forcing him to stop to change the wheel. Shortly afterwards, a water pipe problem caused his engine to terminally overheat.


Burçu Cetinkaya was another non-finisher after clouting a rock. The Peugeot Turkey driver nonetheless profited from the SupeRally ruling to gain more experience of international rallying: "It was all very good experience and I was very pleased with my teams towards the end…"


Burçu and his fellow IRC runners can now look ahead to the sixth round of the 2010 IRC which will take them to Ypres, Belgium, on June 24-26.