Sixty-six cars left a bright and sunny Auckland this morning for the long journey north to Ruawai, around which today’s 10 speed tests are based. This second leg will be a demanding and draining affair with more than 204km of competition in a route of 760km and 17 hours behind the wheel.
The action began with the 20.15km Mititai Finish and the 10.15km Tokatoka tests and both Ford Rallye Sport’s surviving drivers made solid starts in their Focus RS World Rally Cars.
Markko Märtin and Michael Park, seventh overnight, were seventh fastest through Mititai and eighth in Tokatoka to retain their placing. “The car is fine so it’s just down to me to go faster now,” said 26-year-old Märtin. “I was driving on the limit yesterday but this morning I haven’t been yet so I need to attack hard and raise the pace. I don’t remember these roads at all from the recce and that’s unlike me because I normally have quite a good memory for stages.”
Team-mates Carlos Sainz and Luis Moya were eighth on the opening test and seventh on the next in their Focus RS, and that helped the Spanish duo to climb from their overnight 10th to eighth.
“I feel happier with the car this morning and am much more confident than I was yesterday. The set-up feels good and at the moment I’m going to leave it as it is,” said Sainz.
The rally now heads into what may be the most important test of the rally. The 59.00km Parahi / Ararua is not only the longest of the event but also the longest test in the world championship season outside of Kenya’s Safari Rally.
Leaderboard After Stage 10
|1. R Burns/R Reid||GB||Peugeot 206||1hr 30min 47.2sec|
|2. H Rovanperä/R Pietilainen||FIN||Peugeot 206||1hr 31min 20.0sec|
|3. M Grönholm/T Rautiainen||FIN||Peugeot 206||1hr 31min 26.2sec|
|4. P Solberg/P Mills||N||Subaru Impreza||1hr 32min 07.1sec|
|5. J Paasonen/A Kapanen||FIN||Mitsubishi Lancer||1hr 32min 10.7sec|
|6. T Mäkinen/K Lindström||FIN||Subaru Impreza||1hr 32min 12.0sec|
|7. M Märtin/M Park||EE||Ford Focus RS||1hr 32min 27.3sec|
|8. C Sainz/L Moya||E||Ford Focus RS||1hr 32min 53.3sec|
|9. F Loix/S Smeets||B||Hyundai Accent||1hr 32min 55.8sec|
|10. J Kankkunen/J Repo||FIN||Hyundai Accent||1hr 33min 02.7sec|