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Old 03-09-2001, 02:34 PM   #1
Scooby Specialist
Member#: 2683
Join Date: Oct 2000
Chapter/Region: South East
Location: Atlanta, GA
2011 STi 5-Door

Post Rally of Portugal Leg 1 Recap from swrt.com (Long)

Rally of Portugal
Round 3 of 14

Leg 1

Santa Maria de Feira

Wet, rain showers, fog

Toshi Arai
“I hit a rock when I was driving around a corner on SS3 (Fafe) – it was right on the apex and I think it was the same one that Didier (Auriol) hit too. The impact was very bad, it damaged the whole front corner – the steering, suspension and puncture. We also lost the alternator belt, we tried to fit a new one, but there was just too much damage to the car for us to continue. It’s doubly disappointing to retire like this on our first event with the team.”

Petter Solberg
“What can I say? – It’s just a piece of very bad luck. I was careful not to cut the corner, but there must have been a rock or something in the ruts, and it just broke the front end. There was a lot of damage to the steering arm and that was that. But, you know, in conditions like today, these things can happen, sometimes rocks just appear in the middle of the road – it’s just unlucky.”

Markko Martin
“I’ve never seen such conditions – it’s impossible to explain if you cannot see it for yourself - rain, mud, cows, fog! It is so bad, and it’s not going to get better. It’s just survival – I’m certainly not enjoying my driving. For me, the best thing about today has been the cancellation of the two stages.”

Portugal Rally Leg 1 Bulletin (09 February 2001)

Richard Burns “Tommi Makinen has driven well today, but even when I'm pushing hard and taking risks the closest we have been able to get to him is third fastest. It’s a shame that the conditions aren't allowing me to compete with him. I hope that the organisers will take note of the problems that we have had, and look to implement some changes tomorrow to make it a better spectacle”.

After last night’s muddy super special stage, the first full day of the 34th Rally of Portugal got underway today in some of the worst weather conditions the event has ever seen. The sandy gravel stages, more typically dry and dusty, were already soaked after days of rain, and continued to deteriorate in persistent showers. Fog and cloud kept visibility low (down to 20 metres in places) and the stages were covered with a thick layer of mud for the first cars, which worsened with every passing competitor. As the mud cleared it exposed a treacherous rocky surface underneath.

The appalling conditions made a good starting position critical, and competitors further down the order found themselves driving a very different rally to the front runners. Three of the day’s nine stages were repeated, and of those, two were cancelled as a result of stage deterioration. Richard Burns ended the day in 5th place as the leading Subaru World Rally Team entry, with Markko Martin in 8th. Today saw the retirement of Armin Schwarz, the one remaining Skoda entry, as well as Ford’s Colin McRae and Subaru’s Petter Solberg and Toshihiro Arai.

In a late change to the schedule, today's central service area at Celorico de Basto moved 2kms after the original venue was submerged under water.

Stage Reports

SS1 1830hrs 08/03/2001. Baltar Super Special (3.20km) After doubts concerning whether it would be cancelled due to heavy rain and the terrible stage condition, the head-to-head super special at Baltar got underway in front of approximately 30,000 spectators last night. As predicted by the drivers, the surface quickly turned into a mudbath, and most competitors were unable to do much other than get their cars to the finish without getting bogged down. All of the Subaru World Rally Team entries got through intact, and Tommi Makinen, who was running first on the road, opened a one second lead over second placed Gronholm.. Skoda's Bruno Thiry became the event's first major retirement when his Octavia WRC suffered a fuel pump problem on the road section after the stage. Fastest time: Makinen (3:46.9)

SS2 0836hrs Vizo 1 (11.84km) With no hint of a break in the rainy and foggy conditions, the first proper stage of the event got underway this morning. Vizo provided the crews with a challenging mixture of fast downhill sections, jumps and slow corners. But it was the atrocious stage conditions that were to prove the biggest challenge to the cars and drivers. Skoda’s bad luck continued when Armin Schwarz joined his colleague Bruno Thiry on the retirement list. He was forced to quit when the clutch on his Skoda Octavia WRC failed on the road section to the stage. Peugeot’s Harri Rovanpera took the lead from Makinen, while Richard Burns put in an excellent drive to get the fifth-fastest time – despite running 10th on the road. Fastest time: Rovanpera (7:57.6)

SS3 0857hrs Fafe 1 (15.16km) The second of three stages before service was a fast and furious challenge for the drivers. Richard Burns continued to do well, recording the fourth fastest time to hold on to his fifth place overall. But things were not going so well for his Subaru team-mate Toshihiro Arai. Toshi was forced to retire from his debut rally with the team, when his car hit a rock and sustained suspension and steering damage. Despite a valiant effort to make repairs on the road section after completing the stage, he was forced to retire when he ran out of time. Fastest time: Makinen (10:51.8)

SS4 0954hrs Vieira (26.68km) The stage featured a mixture of high-speed sections, with a number of hairpins to slow the action right down. Fog and rain made visibility very poor and according to Richard Burns’ gravel-crew conditions this year were the worst they had ever seen on the stage. Stray cows near the start control caused a few anxious moments for many drivers including Richard Burns and Markko Märtin. But despite the bovine interruptions both managed top-ten times. A disappointing time for team-mate Petter Solberg though when he was slowed by a punctured front right tyre. Fastest time: Makinen (20:36.2)

SS5 1151hrs Vizo 2 (11.84km) The first of three repeated stages, Vizo 2 gave the first opportunity to see the cars battle on a more level playing field. Vizo had already been run once today, and hence did not offer so much of an advantage to the front-runners. Richard Burns used this to his advantage and set the third fastest time, while Makinen dropped down to fifth. Subaru Allstars driver, Hamed Al Wahaibi, running in 19th place overall, had a lucky escape when his car hit a rock and damaged one of his Michelin tyres. Unfortunately the anti-deflation mousse system failed, and broke a top mount on his front suspension. Using some rope, Hamed made an emergency repair and got the car back to service, where new components were fitted. Fastest time: Sainz (8:17.0)

SS6 1212hrs Fafe 2 (15.16km) This repeated stage was cancelled, as the stage was not clear of traffic. A number of rally cars running at the bottom of the start order and some gravel-crew cars were stuck in the mud.

SS7 1309hrs Vieira 2 (26.68km) The final repeated stage of the day was also cancelled, this time on safety grounds. Leading competitors felt that that too much time had passed since the safety car drove through the stage, and that some spectators

SS8 1525hrs Amarante (18.44km) A fast stage, that took the drivers over the River Olo, and featured plenty of hairpins and narrow winding roads. The stage saw drama with the retirements of two of the leading WRC drivers - Colin McRae and Petter Solberg. McRae’s Ford suffered a terminal engine problem, just 1km from the finish, while Petter’s Subaru Impreza received steering arm, and suspension damage on the rutted stage. The plucky Norwegian made road-side repairs to his car and completed the stage, but lost around 25 minutes and decided, for safety reasons, not to continue. Fastest time: Rovanpera (14:19.9)

SS9 1555hrs Mondim de Basto (22:08km) A new stage for this year, Mondim is a high-speed test, which featured asphalt sections as well as the now familiar mud. Carlos Sainz set the fastest time, to close the gap on the leader Makinen, and second placed Rovanpera. After SS9, the top-three drivers were separated by just 23 seconds, and had moved 52 seconds clear of the fourth placed Peugeot of Marcus Gronholm. Richard Burns recorded the fourth fastest time, with Markko Märtin producing another excellent performance to secure eighth overall. Fastest time: Sainz (17:41.9)

SS10 1309hrs Vieira (26.68km) Delayed by more than an hour, following the re-scheduling earlier, the final test of the day was the new three-car super special at Eurocircuit de Lousada. Peugeot’s Harri Rovanpera was a minute late leaving the final service, which gave him a 10 second penalty and handed Carlos Sainz his second place. But Sainz made further inroads by setting the fastest stage time and closing the gap on Makinen to just 17 seconds. The talented young Estonian Markko Märtin seemed to relish the new stage, and finished off leg one with the third-fastest stage time. Fastest time: Sainz (3:19.5)

Ross N.

[This message has been edited by grimlock (edited March 09, 2001).]
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