With 47 kilometer special stage, set on demanding, rough and sometimes mixed surface, what else could we expect? After all, that’s rally for you – it’s the nature of the sport, and it should not be changed, complained about or misunderstood. But damn, is it bad to have such huge gaps and problems, even retirements, so early in the event!
Sebastien Ogier had several issues on the SS1, and from the last of those issues he did not recover. At the moment, public has no idea what the problem was, but it could be related to handbrake issues, again experienced by both Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen. According to Volkswagen, Ogier will be back tomorrow as Rally 2 competitor.
In the meantime, Mikko Hirvonen “broke something in the steering”, car wasn’t turning in corners, leading to huge time loss for the Finn. Mads Ostberg completed only few kilometers before the mysterious issue hit him – according to info we have now, one of the wheels fell of, and both Mads and his team are trying to understand what happened – was it the wheel or the driver that failed.
All this led to Evgeny Novikov setting a stunning time, and building a huge gap after just one stage. With 20-ish seconds advantage, he is being lured to adopt a slightly more conservative tactics, but he is determined to keep the shields up, and continue in the pace he seems to be very comfortable in.
Robert Kubica was great today – had issues being stuck behind Nicolas Fuchs, not seeing the road in the dust, but he survived the stage and is looking forward to the second stage, the only stage remaining today.
After SS 1, Evgeny Novikov leads Dani Sordo with 20.6 seconds, and Jari-Matti Latvala is 15.7 seconds behind Sordo in third.
Damn it, Acropolis Rally, what happened to your gods! It’s too early to sacrifice everyone, too early!