Rd.8 Wales Rally GB

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


SUBARU Runners Still Chasing Places

1 December 2007
Copyright © STI 
The final round of the 2007 P-WRC continues to test the mettle of the drivers, though the weather was at times, far more stable than on the opening day. It was another day of difficulty for the IMPREZA-equipped entrants in the Production category, with only two of the cars in points-paying positions at the end of the leg.

Not unlike yesterday, the day comprised two groups of three stages (the classic Crychan, Epynt and Halfway tests), punctuated by the Lunchtime Service - though today's action had the added attraction of the Superspecial Spectator Stage at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff at the end of the day.

Today's stages were faster and more flowing than those found on leg one; and the drivers' comments upon return to Service at lunchtime confirmed this. The morning's weather too, though not pleasant, was a vast improvement over the opening leg.

In terms of making an impression, it's no surprise that Mirco Baldacci was amongst the quickest of the IMPREZA runners. Despite suffering problems throughout the leg, he still managed to move up three places from 11th to 8th. "After yesterday's gearbox trouble, I think we overworked the engine, and that may have caused some damage. Otherwise the car has been all right."

The man to end the day highest among the IMPREZA-shod entrants was local man David Higgins as he powered his car up to sixth after finishing the first of today's tests in 9th place.

Copyright © STI 
What is remarkable however, were the times being set by Travis Pastrana. He may be a long way back from the lead, particularly after an off on SS9 that eventually put him onto SupeRally on the first of the afternoon's tests, but considering it's the American's first visit to the Welsh forest stages, his progress is nothing short of staggering. "We're learning a lot here, and I wish we were further up the order, but these stages, the conditions, it's just an incredible learning curve. We're also able to refine our pace notes - so next year is already looking attractive for us also. Tomorrow's stages look absolutely sick, but we're here to do our best, learn as much as possible - and that's what we're going to do."

Early on, it was Patrik Flodin flying the flag for SUBARU when he got as high as fourth on the first of the afternoon's stages. His fortunes soon took a nosedive however when contact with a large rock cracked his sump on SS11. The Swede ended the day a disappointed 12th after going onto SupeRally. He will resume tomorrow.

Evegeniy Vertunov was another to move up the order, though the Russian driver suffered a puncture on the final road stage. After starting the day in 12th, he's now sitting in ninth place.

Loris Baldacci, though running further back, has had no problems all day, and is reported to be very happy with his car.

Leszek Kuzaj on the other hand, has had another day of woe. "My rear tyres have been shredded on the stages once again. It happened yesterday afternoon as well. We need to choose a harder compound for these very difficult conditions." He went onto SupeRally on the final road stage of the afternoon.

Spyros Pavlides had a couple of spins in the morning and an alternator problem later on. He finished where he started today, in 16th place.

George Donaldson

STI Group N Project General Manager:
"Leg two features much more classic, fast, sweeping Welsh stages - with the conditions looking much better. The SUBARU drivers are starting to challenge the lead times, but of course the damage was done yesterday with so many rally-type glitches for the drivers. We're not fighting for the lead here today, but we're certainly fighting for a placing.

Copyright © STI 
"Mirco is making good times; Patrik was in there running very well indeed until going onto SupeRally in the afternoon. It was unfortunate too for David Higgins, who was delayed this morning with a puncture, though we're very pleased to see him leading the SUBARU entrants in sixth.

"Amongst all our drivers however, the one that really stands out is Travis Pastrana. He set superb times yesterday, better than anyone of us expected, and today too, he's absolutely devouring the stages. It is remarkable considering the conditions, and the fact that he's never been here before. He has, without any doubt in my mind, the 'right stuff'."

Pos Driver Car Name Time   Diff  
1 Guy WILKS Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:32:01.4 0.0
2 Mark HIGGINS Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:32:59.1 +57.7
3 Juho HÄNNINEN Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:33:18.5 +1:17.1
4 Alessandro BETTEGA Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:35:55.2 +3:53.8
5 Armindo ARAUJO Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:37:25.5 +5:24.1
6 David HIGGINS SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 2:38:06.5 +6:05.1
7 Andreas AIGNER Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:39:11.9 +7:10.5
8 Mirco BALDACCI SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 2:39:39.9 +7:38.5
9 Evgeniy VERTUNOV SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 2:42:59.6 +10:58.2
10 Štěpán VOJTĚCH Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:46:43.0 +14:41.6