Hanninen thrilled with 'perfect start'
|By David Evans and Matt Beer||Wednesday, January 19th 2011, 13:43 GMT|
Juho Hanninen declared his early lead in the Monte Carlo Rally to be the 'perfect start' to the event - but insisted he was not even thinking about winning yet.
The reigning Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion completed the opening morning's two-stage loop with a 35.6-second cushion over nearest rival Stephane Sarrazin, who Hanninen said he regarded as a benchmark on these stages.
"This has been the perfect start for me," said Hanninen, who has yet to win the Monte. "You look to Sarrazin see where you are, and we are beating him."
Hanninen had very little asphalt experience until last year's IRC, so was particularly delighted by his performance on this morning's dry stages. But he was adamant that he would not get carried away.
"It's very early in the rally and it would be stupid to think too much about this," he said. "But I'm very happy. We are on tarmac and I am leading.
"The car's been perfect. We're not doing anything to the car."
While other frontrunners tried soft tyres for SS2, having expected damp conditions, Hanninen used hard tyres all round for SS1 and then switched to soft rears with hard fronts on the next stage, which he won by a comfortable 15.6s.
He went on to add a further 3s to his lead on the first stage after service this afternoon.