|2005 FIA Junior World Rally Championship
Round 3 - Rally d'Italy-Sardinia (28 April - 1 May)
Saturday 30 April 2005 - Leg2
UPS AND DOWNS FOR SUZUKI IN SARDINIA!
Suzuki driver Urmo Aava is second after day two of the Rally d’Italia-Sardinia,
round four of the Junior World Rally Championship. Former rally leader
Kosti Katajamaki is now third, but Guy Wilks and P-G Andersson – who
were first and second in the championship standings – have been forced
Urmo Aava is back on track!
The unusually hot and rough conditions decimated the field, with
several high-profile retirements characterising the day’s action over
five demanding stages. But the Junior World Championship action did
not get underway until the second stage of the day, SS8, because of
an accident that blocked the opening test of leg two. Temperatures
soared in excess of 30 degrees centigrade, while the sharp rocks made
punctures a constant hazard.
There was another tight battle between Suzuki and Citroen today with
drivers in both the Ignis and the C2 setting comparable stage times,
proving once more the high level of competition in the Junior World
Rally Championship. Former leader Kris Meeke stopped on the final stage,
but will re-join the rally on Sunday with a five-minute penalty that
places him a competitive fourth overnight.
Aava drove a sensible rally to take second place overall, benefiting
from problems that affected his Suzuki Sport Europe team mate Kosti
Katajamaki. Despite the fact that Urmo had not driven a gravel rally
for six months, he quickly got to grips with the five-door Ignis to
be at the forefront of the action. Although he thought that he had
picked up a puncture on the opening loop of stages, he had no further
problems to end the day two minutes behind the leader.
Urmo said: “It’s been a very eventful and a very tough day, as
I’ve been learning more about the car the more I drive along. It’s
been incredibly rough and rocky – even more so than yesterday – so
the main thing for me has been to try and stay out of trouble. I’d
like to thank Suzuki for building such a strong car: it has put up
with an incredible degree of punishment today. My aim tomorrow is
to get the car to the finish, but I need to keep the maximum concentration”
team mate Kosti Katajamaki was leading until the second stage this
morning, when he lost three and a half minutes as the result of a bizarre
incident. He slid wide on a left-hand corner into some loose sand,
and it took some time to collect enough spectators to push him out.
But instead of helping him, the spectators stole the two front wings
off his car! Apart from this, he had no further problems for the rest
of the day.
Kosti, backed by two-time World Champion Marcus Gronholm, said: “The incident this morning was the strangest thing I have ever seen in all my years of rallying. It was just a small misjudgment of a corner that put us off, but it took a long time to find some spectators. When they came, I was so surprised that they started to pull some bits off the car! It was not what I was expecting. I’m
disappointed to lose the lead, but we still have a very good chance
to do well and score some good points.”
Reigning Junior World Champion P-G Andersson’s rally came to an end on SS8 this morning, when he stopped with a broken gearbox casing that deprived his Ignis of drive and he retired from fourth place.
P-G said: “It’s a real pity as we knew that
we could have finished with a top result from this rally. We had bad
luck with a puncture yesterday but apart from that the car and our
situation was very good. The problem with the gearbox casing came
without warning, and when we inspected the damage we knew there was
nothing we could do. Unfortunately this rally is very rough, so the
cars face a lot of punishment.”
His team mate Guy Wilks was out on the same stage, after breaking a lower track control arm because of the constant battering from the many sharp rocks. He was unable to continue with broken suspension, and had to retire from sixth place.
The Junior World Rally Championship leader commented: “It just wasn’t destined to be my rally – yesterday
we were plagued with punctures and today we had to retire on the first
stage we competed on. The rally route has been unbelievably tough
and the car has taken a real battering. Sadly, the strain proved a
bit too much.”
Team manager Risto Laine said: “I’m very disappointed for Guy and P-G, and it’s a pity that the rally organisers have changed the route and made it worse rather than better. Conditions have been much rougher than anybody expected, and because of that we have seen a lot of damaged cars throughout the field. I’d
like to congratulate Urmo and Kosti on another good performance today,
and I wish them both luck for the final day of the rally. Both P-G
and Guy will re-start the rally tomorrow under the new rules, and
there is a good chance that they can pick up points.”
Italian Alan Scorcioni, driving his second rally in an Ignis run by Czech team JM Engineering, went off on the first stage of the rally yesterday but re-joined today under the new re-start system and set some competitive times in front of his home crowd.
On the final long stage, totalling 38 kilometres, Czech driver Pavel Valousek set second-fastest time overall, against strong opposition. He ends the day 12th in the Junior World Championship classification.
He said: “Although it’s a big disappointment not to be in the running, today has been a very valuable experience and it has given me more time to learn about what is an excellent car. I’ve
really enjoyed myself today and we set some good times which is very
Tomorrow’s final leg of the Rally Italia takes in 66 competitive kilometres over six stages with a brief service halt in between. Weather conditions are again expected to be warm and dry. The first car leaves Parc Ferme in Olbia at 0630 (CET) and the winner is due to spray the champagne at 1430.
Junior World Rally Championship classification at end of leg two,
1 Daniel Sordo (Citroen C2) 3h37m01.1s
2 Urmo Aava (Suzuki Ignis) +2m32.7s
3 Kosti Katajamaki (Suzuki Ignis) +2m40.5s
4 Kris Meeke (Citroen C2) +4m29.3s
5 Mirco Baldacci (Fiat Punto) +6m12.4s
6 Luca Betti (Renault Clio) +6m24.2s
7 P-G Andersson (Suzuki Ignis) +19m29.2s
8 Guy Wilks (Suzuki Ignis) +20m42.5s
10 Martin Prokop (Suzuki Ignis) +21m54.2s
12 Pavel Valousek (Suzuki Ignis) +27m40.1s
13 Alan Scorcioni (Suzuki Ignis) +37m05.0s