Hirvonen takes an early lead
Mikko Hirvonen is fastest on Cagliari super special
This morning’s competitive mileage consists of four stages. The first is the 20km opener at ‘Terranova Nord 1’ and this is quickly followed by the 12.4km run through ‘Terranova Sud 1’. After a short stop to refuel, the crews then tackle the 20.29 km ‘Coiluna-Crastazza 1’ and the 27.30km ‘Loelle 1’ stages.
Hyundai fill the top-two places in the overall classification after the opening test. Thierry Neuville and Juho Hanninen benefitted from their lowers starting position and the road cleaning effect. Both complained about a strange vibration inside their cars at the stage end. Neuville explains: “There was a noise inside the car that was distracting. I tried to follow the lines and get an advantage from that.”
As predicted, world championship leader Sebastien Ogier, suffers as he runs as the first car on the gravel-strewn road. The VW driver is slower than many of the cars running behind and is pretty despondent at the end of the stage. He says: “That was terrible. I’m going to lose a lot of time. I’ll do what I can but there is really no grip.”
There was drama for Rally Argentina winner, Jari-Matti Latvala as he suffers a problem with the brakes on his VW Polo R WRC 5km from the end of the stage. He drops a chunk of time and is 15.2s off the pace at the end of the stage – and 2.6s behind his team-mate. “The brake pedal started to go soft,” he says.
Kris Meeke took the start of this morning’s loop after suffering a nervous moment at last night’s super special in Cagliari. The Citroen driver landed his DS3 WRC heavily on a jump and broke a radiator pipe on his car. However, his team changed the entire unit last night and he is able to secure eight place after the opening stage.
WRC 2 frontrunner Nicolas Fuchs retires before he gets to the first stage this morning after the engine on his Ford Fiesta R5 cuts out 300 metres after leaving service in Alghero. The Peruvian, who was sixth fastest on last night’s super special, is distraught. “I have no words,” he says.