Big lead for McRae in China Rally
- 6th November 2011, 10:17am
Saturday saw competition of six stages with a total distance of 104.84 kilometers. The roads were gavel surface at the Hengshan-Sanmenyuan stage and concrete surface at the Sheyang stage. It was a sunny day and the participating teams had to make re-adjustment to their cars since their preparations had been made for a rainy day.
Super sprint winner McRae was the first to start the day’s race, and was fastest in four out of six stages. But the Englishman was rather cautious when predicting Sunday’s final result saying the title was not his yet.
“It’s a good day,” McRae said after the race. “The road is slippery. The car works very well but tired. And I am satisfied with the score gap of the second one. I will go as fast as I can tomorrow.”
The other two fastest times were achieved by Finland’s Ketomaa, who won the 2009 China Rally Championship, also in Longyou. Driving for Soueast Motor Kumho Team, his task is to gain as many points as possible and to help his team surpass Team MRF, absent in Longyou this year, to finish second in the 2011 APRC’s Team Trophy. The Finn, who will drive for Team Ford in the World Rally Championship next year, said he was happy with his own and his car’s performances. But he said it would be very hard to catch up with the McRae with almost a minute gap.
Compared with McRae, Atkinson was slow with his car all the time on Saturday. The Australian admitted after the competition that unless the leading two make mistakes, his hopes of winning the year’s title have been dashed. Atkinson was third, one minute and 55.6 seconds behind McRae.
Pertamina Cusco Racing’s Rifat Sungkar was the most unfortunate, suffering flat tires both in the morning and in the afternoon. He was 10th after losing lots of time.
Fan Fan of Soueast Motor Kumho Team had to withdraw from the race after a brake pipe burst. Teammate Yuan Hao also had a bad time on Saturday morning, first having his car’s exhaust off and then a differential lock failure.
Sunday’s Leg 2 will be another six special stages at Muchen, Luojiapu and Luojia for a total distance of 124.74 kilometers.
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