Thierry Neuville, driving a Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg 207 Super 2000, leads Guy Wilks (Peugeot UK 207) by just 0.1-of-a-second after the opening pair of stages of the Prime Yalta Rally in Ukraine.
Day one of the all-asphalt Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) event consisted of two short stages close to the rally base in Yalta. Held in warm and dry conditions, the tests were considered a ‘taster’ of the action expected tomorrow when the rally begins in earnest with demanding stages characterised by their bumpy nature and inconsistent surface.
Early leader Neuville began the event on a high following his victory on the previous IRC round in Corsica.
Behind the pacesetting Peugeots, Patrik Sandell heads the Skoda challenge in his Skoda Sweden-backed Fabia in third place. The Swede has vowed to make up for his lacklustre showing in Corsica and impressed with the second quickest run through the first stage.
Andreas Mikkelsen is fourth overnight in his Skoda UK Motorsport entered Fabia with Toni Gardemeister completing the top five in his TGS Worldwide-entered Skoda.
Giandomenico Basso heads the three-strong PROTON Motorsports assault in his Satria Neo S2000 with Estonian teenager Karl Kruuda ninth on his first competitive drive in his Fabia on asphalt. Basso’s PROTON team-mate PG Andersson completes the top 10.
It was a frustrating start for defending IRC champion Juho Hanninen, who is making his return to the IRC after missing the previous round in France. Despite setting top three times on both stages today, the Finn was handed a 10-second time penalty for being adjudged to have jumped the start of stage two.
“It seems we went too soon and got a penalty, which I don’t think will be removed,” said Haninen.
“I don’t remember anything special happening, maybe there was a problem somewhere. But I don’t think 10 seconds will decide this rally because there is still such a long way to go.”
Results after SS2 : Prime Yalta Rally – Ukraine
|1||Thierry Neuville||Peugeot||207 S2000||00:04:30.6|
|2||Guy Wilks||Peugeot||207 S2000||00:00:00.1|
|3||Patrik Sandell||Škoda||Fabia S2000||00:00:02.1|
|4||Andreas Mikkelsen||Škoda||Fabia S2000||00:00:02.2|
|5||Toni Gardemeister||Škoda||Fabia S2000||00:00:03.2|
|6||Bryan Bouffier||Peugeot||207 S2000||00:00:03.5|
|7||Jan Kopecký||Škoda||Fabia S2000||00:00:05.5|
|8||Giandemenico Basso||Proton||Satria Neo S2000||00:00:05.6|
|9||Karl Kruuda||Škoda||Fabia S2000||00:00:06.7|
|Proton||Satria Neo S2000||00:00:08.5|