07 Feb 08
Production Car World Rally Championship leader Patrik Sandell says he can still find more pace from himself and his Peugeot 207 Super 2000 as the Swedish Rally unfolds.
Sandell hit the front of the Group N field on stage five, where he eclipsed the time of Subaru driver Jari Ketomaa to move into a 9.6 second lead in the P-WRC. “I’m learning something in every corner,” said Sandell, who narrowly avoided a fourth-stage puncture when he clipped a rock 8km from the finish. “The morning went well. I think this car is good in the tight and technical sections, but we are losing out to the Subaru and Mitsubishi in the really fast places.”
Ketomaa was another driver playing himself in. The reigning Finnish Group N champion admitted he was surprised at his early lead in P-WRC, given that he hadn’t been taking risks through the morning.
Beyond the top two, there were Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions filling the next four places. Juho Hanninen settled into an early P-WRC third despite a brief excursion in stage four. Behind the Finn, Red Bull driver Andreas Aigner said he was delighted to be mixing it with the Scandinavians. Championship debutant Martin Prokop was one place behind in fifth and former Mitsubishi works driver Uwe Nittel played himself back into the sport with a problem-free morning in sixth.
Defending P-WRC champion Toshi Arai had a trying morning in the new Impreza WRX. “I can’t get used to the car,” he said. “It feels nervous. Very difficult. And the other problem is the surface changing. The grip is not constant. It’s been tough and it’s going to take me some time to settle in with the car before I have the confidence to make changes.”