After a disastrous day for Ford, Loeb takes lead from Hirvonen at the end day 1 in Rally New Zealand
After Mikko Hirvonen had his 3.9 second lead going into mid day service. His team mate Loeb decided to turn the screw a little. On the now nearly dry roads of newZealand and the Frenchman cut Hirvonens lead down to just 1.5. But on the following stage Hirvonen fought back on the 2nd running of the Whaanga coast stage, the stage much drier than the fin expected. this extended his lead over loeb to 7.6 seconds. Loeb was very surprised at his team mates pace. ”
It was really muddy at the end of this one. Mikko was again very fast at the end, I don’t know why…”
Jari-Matti Latvala continues in third but only 4th quickest through the stage, losing 10 seconds to Hirvonen. Latvala’s team mate Petter Solberg was much happier this afternoon now that he had the right ‘shoes’ on. Changing to the soft tyre in service., and started to move his way up the leaderboard, “It’s working much better..sorry about this morning, it was really stressful.” Norwegian now in 6th but still 1 minute 34 seconds from the lead.
SS7 it went from a bad morning for Ford, to a disastrous day for Ford. Jari-Matti Latvala went off on Stage 7, the second running of the Te Akau South stage, and he has lost more than 4 minutes and dropped from third to ninth. He explains, “I took a very small cut across the grass, it was boggy, got sucked in, got caught in the fence, spectators had to cut me out… I don’t know what to say…”
Sébastien Loeb was the fastest man on the stage, taking 3.0 from Hirvonen, whose lead is cut to 4.6 with one stage left tonight. This very much turning into Citroën’s rally.
It was on the final stage of the day, the 32km Te Akau North, that Loeb then took control of the rally. The 8 times world champ was 8.6 seconds faster than his team mate Hirvonen, and took the lead over him by 4 seconds. Sebastien Loeb now leads at the end of day 1 on rally New Zealand.
Fords Petter Solberg managed 2nd fastest, and due to Latvala’s problems he now holds 4th overall. Its an impressive position for the man in 3rd. Evgeny Novikov, being the best of the rest and stayed out of trouble. Despite being over a minute off the lead he holds 3rd at the end of day 1. Fords young gun Ott Tanak is sitting in 5th place, the best of the junior drivers, but Citroens Junior, Thierry Neuville is only 31 seconds behind in 6th. Sordo 7th after his gearbox problems and tyre choice from this morning. Latvala sits 9th. Suspected driveshaft problems for Manfred Stohl allowed Ken Block to snatch 10th overall,
New Zealand hero Hayden Paddon completed the stage but is concerned whether or not his Skoda Fabia S2000, which has clutch and gearbox issues, will be make it back to service in Auckland.
Overall results after Day 1 Rally New Zealand