Day 1am: Martin to the fore

Markko Martin has taken first blood in this weekend's Rallye de France heading the times after the second stage of the first leg in Corsica on Friday. Team-mate Francois Duval is eights seconds off the Estonian's pace to make it an early Ford 1-2 lead while championship favourite Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) is third

Day 1am: Martin to the fore

Martin trailed his team-mate after the first stage, the 32.89km run through Ampaza to Col St Eustache, the young Belgian riding high after topping Thursday's wet shakedown. But the Estonian fought back on the second stage as he attempts to take victory for the second time this year following his win in Mexico back in March.

"The roads are still tricky, even if the sun is shining," Martin said. "I think we've managed to get just the right set-up, which explains our times. I'm driving confidently, and can really let go. On the second stage, though, I think my tyres were possibly too soft, and they had a tendency to move and lose grip."

Martin was 12 seconds quicker than Duval through the 27.78km Aullene to Arbellara stage while their rivals were left well and truly behind. Citroen's Loeb is the Ford duo's nearest challenger, but the Frenchman is 37.5s. Loeb's team boss Guy Frequelin has urged him to take it easy this weekend for he needs only five points from the remaining three rallies to secure his first championship title. Whether Loeb will heed those words remains to be seen.

Defending champion Petter Solberg, though, is seeing his hopes of keeping the championship alive already fade. The Subaru ace is lagging in sixth spot well over a minute off Martin's pace. Even if he was to win this rally, Loeb only has to finish fourth here to take the championship.

"The gap is quite normal," Solberg said. "We are on asphalt, that's all. On the first stage, it was very slippery and I didn't have a good feeling. The tyres I chose were possibly too hard."

Loeb added: "I was on slick tyres, even though the road is around 80 per cent damp. But I think it was definitely the right choice. I was a bit hesitant because the car was understeering a lot."

In Solberg's way are former champions Carlos Sainz (Citroen) in fourth place overall, 38s off the pace, and Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot), 58s adrift.

Cedric Robert's factory Peugeot 307 is in seventh ahead of the Skoda Fabia of Armin Schwarz, who rounds out the top eight.

shares
comments
FIA seeks time on cost cuts

Previous article

FIA seeks time on cost cuts

Next article

Day 1: Duval takes lead

Day 1: Duval takes lead
Load comments
Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant? Plus

Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains Plus

How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Plus

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Plus

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021
Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit? Plus

Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit?

OPINION: The Ypres Rally featured a cameo from the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in its final stage, giving WRC teams the chance to experience its iconic corners in rallying machinery. It proved to be an engaging addition to the rally, and could perhaps serve as an example for other events to visit famous circuits

WRC
Aug 24, 2021
How Hyundai's home hero delivered overdue WRC success in Belgium Plus

How Hyundai's home hero delivered overdue WRC success in Belgium

With limited recent fortune and pressure starting to mount, Hyundai needed a big result at the Ypres Rally. All the key components came together in Belgium to see home hero Thierry Neuville lead a manufacturer 1-2 and kickstart its World Rally Championship challenge

WRC
Aug 16, 2021
The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree Plus

The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree

M-Sport has become the first to unveil its new-for-2022 hybrid World Rally Championship challenger, the Puma Rally1. Ford has upped its support in a bid for glory, but can the new machine roll back the years and return the Blue Oval to the top of the WRC tree?

WRC
Aug 12, 2021
The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies Plus

The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies

French drivers have dominated the World Rally Championship across the past two decades; Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier have racked up the titles in commanding fashion. With Ogier calling it a day on full-time WRC competition from next year, France will pin its long-term hopes on rookie Adrien Fourmaux, who looks to have a bright future.

WRC
Aug 7, 2021