Rd.8 Wales Rally GB

Production Car World Rally Championship
30 Nov. to 2 Dec. 2007


Diabolical Conditions Greet Competitors on Opening Leg

30 November 2007
Copyright © STI 
Wales Rally GB kicked off to a dismal start in terms of weather today, beginning with fog and rain that became a torrential downpour coupled with high winds by the afternoon. It was enough to cause more than a few of the drivers to back off and follow others' lights on the final test of the day - such were the atrocious conditions.

The leg consisted of six special stages, run in two groups three; the afternoon's being a repeat of the morning. Running IMPREZAs were Patrik Flodin, Evegeniy Vertunov, Mirco Baldacci, Leszek Kuzaj, Travis Pastrana, Spryos Pavlides and Loris Baldacci.

Right from the opener, the drivers were having a real battle on the stages; Travis Pastrana, new to the Welsh forests, had a lurid spin and a puncture, both events costing the American driver valuable time. It was no easier for any of the others, with drivers at the SS1 stage end all bemoaning the appalling conditions. Fog was another real hindrance, and many competitors were delayed by a total lack of visibility.

As the morning wore on, things went from bad to worse, with increased amounts of water on the stages - and predictably, even thicker fog. By the time they went back to Service at lunch, comments were flying about how this was as bad as anyone could remember.

Briefly - and only very briefly, the rain let up after lunch. However, once the first cars had come through SS4 (the second run through SS1) the rain was back. This time, it was to stay for the duration of the day, and became continually stronger, with the fog returning to the higher elevations and causing havoc as the leg drew to a close.

George Donaldson

STI Group N Project General Manager:
"It's been quite an amazing day out there, with driving, torrential rain in 40-50 mile-an-hour winds, and densely foggy conditions on at least three of today's stages. We've had cars with misting up windscreens, numerous punctures, people who couldn't see where they were going to the extent that they decided to wait and follow the competitor who had been running behind them, there have been cars falling off jacks due to some very, very soft ground on the stages caused by the huge amounts of rain - it's probably one of the most eventful days in the whole year of the P-WRC.

Copyright © STI 
"A rather surprising result at the end of the day finds us languishing in fifth and seventh places, with David Higgins and Patrik Flodin, who we hope will be able to pick up the pace tomorrow and make some improvements. Another one with a funny old day was Evegeniy Vertunov, punctures and delays causing a bit of lost time here and there. He's back in 11th - a little further back, about two and a half minutes from the final points-paying position, than he would like to be. Leszek Kuzaj had a day he would rather forget.

"Travis Pastrana on the other hand, has certainly had a couple of punctures; however, his times have been very, very impressive. He's lost about six minutes, but without that delay, those times would have put him in about fifth place. This is one of the most technically difficult events to do and it's his first time here. Foul, foul conditions, but of course he's getting valuable experience here and that is worth a lot.

"A little bit further back again is Spyros Pavlides who had a fairly miserable day, bending his suspension early on, and certainly wasn't enjoying the rain and the fog. But the saddest story of the day has to be that of Mirco Baldacci, who had a transmission problem this morning - he was stuck in fifth gear for the first two stages , but he was still fifth overall in the Production championship. He then had a puncture on the third stage and this time loss dropped him further back. Another puncture this afternoon and various other delays have dropped him out of the running. Tomorrow's tests are expected to be every bit as tough as today. I think we're going to see an interesting leg for sure."

Pos Driver Car Name Time   Diff  
1 Guy WILKS Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1:27:18.8 0.0
2 Gwyndaf EVANS Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1:27:22.0 +3.2
3 Juho HÄNNINEN Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1:28:16.7 +57.9
4 Mark HIGGINS Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1:28:17.9 +59.1
5 David HIGGINS SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 1:29:36.1 +2:17.3
6 Alessandro BETTEGA Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1:29:46.9 +2:28.1
7 Patrik FLODIN SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 1:30:00.9 +2:42.1
8 Armindo ARAUJO Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1:30:50.8 +3:32.0
9 Andreas AIGNER Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1:30:51.6 +3:32.8
10 Stuart M. JONES Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1:31:39.9 +4:21.1