Surprise leader in Rally NZ - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Surprise leader in Rally NZ

16/04/2004 09:02:06 PM Comments (0)

Finn Harri Rovanpera completed the longest stage of the day four seconds quicker than anyone else to snatch a surprise lead of just one second over world champion Petter Solberg after the Kaipara stages of Rally NZ.

They still had the two passes of the Manukau Superspecial to negotiate but the Peugeots of Rovanpera and last year's winner, Marcus Gronholm, were engaged in a battle royale with Solberg's Subaru at the head of the world championship field.

Ford's Markko Martin was only two seconds behind Gronholm. His Ford team-mate, Francois Duval, and the Citroens of Sebastien Loeb and Carlos Sainz were all under a minute behind the leader.

Solberg led from the start of the day and led by 3.6 seconds from Gronholm after two stages. But Gronholm stormed to the front with a superb drive in the 31.73km Bull stage. Solberg was 2s back and Rovanpera a further 11s back.

Then it all went wrong for Gronholm and it took a bit of fencepost technology to keep him in the rally.

"I rolled in the last corner of stage six and the car stopped on its roof," he said.

"Fortunately, though there was lots of body damage, the wheels were about straight."

He and co-driver Timo Rautiainen used a bit of fence post to clear the suspension and with the car back on its wheels completed the stage, losing only 20s.

Amazingly Gronholm was second fastest to Rovanpera on the next 48.21km Possum stage before returning to service at Paparoa to have his car repaired.

His car received two new doors, a new bonnet, a front air dam, a right front light and a great deal of attention from some hammers. He is 28s behind Solberg.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2023 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news