08 Feb 08
Patrik Sandell remains in the lead of the Production Car World Rally Championship category of the Swedish Rally, despite feeling he had driven too slowly through the afternoon’s four stages. The Peugeot 207 S2000 driver holds a 15.9 second lead over Juho Hanninen (Mitsubishi) and will be looking to extend that advantage tomorrow.
While delighted to be leading Group N on his debut in the Peugeot, Sandell said: “I was too cautious this afternoon. The stages were not easy, there was a lot of gravel coming through in the ruts. We can and will drive faster tomorrow. Right now, I am really happy with the position. It’s amazing, but let’s see what we can do tomorrow. I am having so much fun in this car, it’s fantastic.”
Hanninen’s only concern through the afternoon had been to conserve his tyres as the covering of snow and ice diminished on the second run at the stages. The Finn has a half-minute advantage over third-placed P-WRC runner Patrik Flodin (Subaru). Flodin said: “The conditions are not easy. The car feels heavy when the snow is melting like this. It’s difficult to find the line and keep the car in the line. You just have to stick with the ruts, that’s all you can do.”
Early P-WRC category leader Jari Ketomaa was left ruing a sixth-stage puncture and a spin which cost him 30 seconds and left him close to the brace of Mitsubishi’s running in fifth and sixth. The first of those Lancer drivers, Andreas Aigner admitted he could go quicker - but that wasn’t part of his plan. “If I do that, then it does come with the risk,” he said. “I’m not going to. I’m happy with where I am. I’m thinking about the championship and that’s all. There will be no risks from me.”
Martin Prokop remained baffled about his apparent inability to match his scorching time through the second stage of the day. He had a similar attitude to Aigner - particularly given his own lack of experience of both the car and the conditions.
Former Mitsubishi WRC driver Uwe Nittel (Mitsubishi) and defending champion Toshi Arai (Subaru) rounded out the points positions in seventh and eighth. The latter admitted he’d had a miserable first day of competition in his brand new Impreza saying: “I just can’t get any confidence with the car at all. We need more testing. At the moment, it’s not nice.”