Fords top shakedown

Ford's Markko Martin found himself at the top of the timesheets alongside young team-mate Mikko Hirvonen in the pre-event shakedown for Rally Catalunya today (Thursday), despite the fact that the Estonian is still recovering from a heavy crash near the end of last week's Tour de Corse

Fords top shakedown

Both Martin, who has a stiff neck following the crash and is wearing a small neck brace and extra seat padding, and Hirvonen completed the 3.4km stage in 2m17.4s.

Martin ran a new compound of Michelin tyre - which he used briefly in Corsica last week. Ford says it might use the new compound at some point over the weekend.

"I would prefer to have had a full day's testing to evaluate them properly," he said. "But there is definitely something there."

Reigning world champion Marcus Gronholm was third fastest for Peugeot, ahead of Petter Solberg - who this week managed to complete the shakedown without crashing his car.


Francois Duval was fifth fastest, but isn't expecting a repeat of the career-best third he scored last weekend.

"This will be trickier than Corsica," said Duval. "But the good thing is there are a lot of new stages which will level the playing field a little. I hope to take advantage in the new stages."

One runner who did hit trouble was Skoda's Toni Gardemeister. The rear anti-roll bar in the Finn's Fabia broke with alarming regularity in France - and broke again during shakedown today.

"If it happens on shakedown, for sure it is going to happen on the rally," he grumbled.

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