Basso derde in de Rally van Rusland

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Basso derde in de Rally van Rusland

Berichtdoor Sportiva-Italia » Zo Jul 12, 2009 12:31

Bron: Italiaspeed.com

Basso derde in de Rally van Rusland
11-07-2009

The Rally Russia has shown a step forward in pace for the Abarth team but both Giandomenico Basso and his young team-mate Anton Alén have had their share of problems as the event goes into its final day. Basso has suffered two punctures - one on the first night and one on Day 2 - which have blunted the challenge that his prodigious pace should have given to the Skoda pair that lead at the front. Alén, meanwhile, could not capitalise when he was promoted to third place after his team mate and Guy Wilks (Proton) had punctures and he tore a wheel off his Grande Punto Abarth on the last stage yesterday. However the battered car is being repaired and he will restart today under Superally regulations.
"It was a big route for Day 2 but at the end of it I'm now back in third," said Basso as the crews went into parc ferme last night. "Tomorrow will be long and difficult day but I hope to do it good! I made a mistake during SS9, five km from the finish – and we punctured another wheel, but we're still in the fight."

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Before the start of Rally Russia, Juho Hanninen was clearly looking forward to returning to a gravel-based event and one so close to his homeland. The reason why he was looking forward to setting out from Vyborg has now become clear to see, as his Fabia S2000 has slithered through the waterlogged stages with aplomb, and has yet to be challenged for victory on any of the stages of this gruelling event. "We didn't start the last stage because of safety issue, because people are on the road," said Hanninen last night. "Apart from that, the day was nice. No problems with the car, no mistakes. A few times it was a bit close to the rocks, but we got through without any punctures. It was quite a long day, I don't need to push any more, so I'm focusing on keeping my tyres away from troubles."
To be just under a minute in arrears of Hanninen is testament to the skill of his team-mate, asphalt star Jan Kopecky. The Czech driver showed his loose surface skills with aplomb in the Azores, but this weekend wrested second place away from the fast-starting Basso on merit and has managed to keep his Fabia out of trouble when many of the other contenders have not.

Local hero and Russian national champion Aleksandr Zheludov has also shown enormous pace in his Peugeot 207 S2000, but repeatedly been caught with a misfire that has limited him to running on three cylinders. He is now in a titanic battle with Britain's Guy Wilks in the extremely impressive new Proton Satria Neo S2000 for fourth place, with Wilks on a charge after dropping back from third place after a puncture and malfunctioning car jack cost him valuable time. "I will not try to fight with the Wilks, my goal is national championship," said Zheludov. "It is a pity that the cancellation of SS10 makes it more difficult to achieve our goal, but I am pleased with the car. We've had a few problems but kept ourselves in the leading group, so that's good."
Franz Wittmann has doggedly pressed on in what is undoubtedly his best performance of the season so far, going into the final day in sixth place. The Ralliart driver from Austria was confident prior to the start of the rally, and has fulfilled that promise with style despite having a rock-beaten and weary rear differential to contend with. "It was a hard day for me - we have some punctures and some problems with hitting big stones," he said last night. "We finished, we're here, the car is in one piece – I guess I'm happy with that. But I think tomorrow we will have an almost new car and will finish this rally, hopefully!"

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The hotly-contested battle between Wittmann and a host of Ralliart Evo IXs from the Russian national series has been joined by a spirited drive from 2WD Cup leader Kaspar Koilta, the Estonian putting in a thrilling performance throughout the event for Honda. However on the road section after the final stage of Day 2 the Civic's suspension collapsed after the beating it had taken on the rough Russian stages and he is forced to restart under Superally regulations. This puts Boris Zimin back up into seventh in his Evo IX. Zimin holds a strong advantage over the ranks of his countrymen in similar Ralliart machines. "Yesterday was more difficult, because on SS1 we had a problem with the gearbox," he said on Saturday evening. "Now it is not disturbing us, but there is some question about how the suspension will hold up. Now we are not pushing hard because the gaps are quite big, so tomorrow we will try to keep the position."
Koilta's misfortune has handed the 2WD lead to the Peugeot of Russian driver Dmitriy Voronov. "Since the start of the rally I decided to play it safe and go carefully through the stages, once it was clear to see how much effect the heavy rains had on the stages," Voronov said. "It was worrying to see Kaspar going further and further ahead, but now I have the lead and have had no punctures or broken wheels, unlike a lot of people!"
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Berichtdoor Sportiva-Italia » Zo Jul 12, 2009 12:44

Update:

12-07-2009

Giandomenico Basso eventually prevailed to claim third place in Russia after a rally-long battle with his team mate Anton Alén and the Proton of Guy Wilks, the Italian's podium slot being the best result for the Abarth factory team this season in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
"It's always great to grab some points after such a difficult rally," Basso said on Saturday afternoon. "Yesterday, we had a water leak and that made us worry about the engine. The balance of the car was not good and we couldn't fix that. Plus I had trouble with punctures and so we need to analyse the data, see what was missing, and use these points to boost our season."
Alén returned to the fray yesterday after taking advantage of the Superally rule following an incident on Friday that saw the wheel ripped off his Grande Punto Abarth S2000. He fought back to finish in fifth place which he however quickly lost following a time penalty was added after the final stage leading him sixth in the final classification. However the Finn does finally get off the mark and pick up his first points (3) of the season. It all means that after the first six rounds of the 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge Basso now has collected 17 points and is fourth in the overall standings, behind Kris Meeke (30), Jan Kopecký (29) and Freddie Loix (24).

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However with three days and 13 stages behind them, the Skoda team can reflect on a dominant performance in which Hanninen was only beaten to one fastest stage time through the course of the entire event. "Of course, it's great for my second time here in Vyborg and my second Rally Russia victory," Hanninen said at the finish. "Of course, my goal was winning over here, but we all know how difficult this rally was. I did all I can to avoid the rocks. Luck also helped a bit I think. But anyway, the most important thing is that I didn't have any punctures. And it's a 1-2 for Skoda, so a great result!"
For Kopecký, the title fight has now become a reality, slotting in between Peugeot's top drivers Kris Meeke and Freddy Loix at the top of the points table after another measured and mature gravel performance. "Last year, I lost second place after a puncture. So this year I told myself not to push 100%, because the risk is so high," he said. "On a few stages I tried to push a little bit more and the times were not so bad. But Juho was very fast, like last year, and there was no way to catch him. This is the perfect weekend for us and now we can work towards repeating it on home ground in the Czech Republic next month."

Wilks meanwhile recovered from dropping back from third to seventh on Day 2 and ended the rally in fourth place, and that was despite picking up another puncture on SS13. Next man up was Franz Wittmann, celebrating his best-ever finish in the IRC with Ralliart, having gained the position once Alén was hit with a time penalty.
For the local men there were slim pickings to be found on the 2009 Rally Russia. Reigning Russian champion Alesandr Zheludov retired his Peugeot 207, which had run as high as fifth. The attrition rate gave Franz Wittmann a chance to shine, taking his best-ever IRC finish for Ralliart ahead of the similar Evo IX of Boris Zimin. Meanwhile Kaspar Koitla from Estonia not only gave Honda its second successive 2WD victory but also claimed a point for eighth overall.
The next event in Madeira will see the works Skodas sit out the IRC's second Atlantic trip of the season as they focus on repeating their dominance at home on the Barum Rally Zlín in six weeks time giving the Abarth team, which traditionally does well on the island, and particularly asphalt-specialist Giandomenico Basso, a chance to continue chasing points.
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