Sect. 10, Oltepesi: All go on the Safari

Discount the Safari at your peril seems to be the watchword on the final leg of the toughest of WRC events. Anyone expecting a leisurely Sunday drive was sorely mistaken as retirements, go-slows and mechanical problems blitz the field on the first of the day's test, the 117.46km Oltepesi section. Tommi Makinen still leads, but that's not even half the story

Sect. 10, Oltepesi: All go on the Safari

Low cloud over the first of Leg Three's sections meant that safety helicopters were unable to take to the air and so organisers prevented the drivers from starting the stage. However the delay came after leading pair Tommi Makinen and Harri Rovanpera had begun the section.

Makinen's Mitsubishi Lancer completed the stage, the longest in the World Rally calendar, in a time of 1h01m.02s, while the Peugeot of Rovanpera finished a further 25 seconds back.

Rovanpera, however, drove without the assistance of a safety helicopter and the Finn said he was therefore taking it easy.

"I was driving very, very carefully, because there was no helicopter," he said.

Makinen meanwhile had no such worries at the start of the leg that is a complete re-run of Friday's tests.

"No problems," said Makinen after completing the section. "It is just a little rougher than Friday, but otherwise OK."

Both Makinen and Rovanpera went through the usual 20 minute service after the section and their cars were ushered into a Parc Ferme while they waited until for the rest of the rally to catch up.

Freddy Loix and Petter Solberg were the next go through, but the turbo boost on Loix's Mitsubishi Carisma failed and he's completing the stage at a leisurely 60kph, dropping further down the leaderboard.

Solberg's situation was much worse however. The front right wheel came off his Subaru Impreza and he has dropped out of the rally from a promising third place. It has been a miserable event for the Subaru team, with all three cars of Richard Burns, Solberg and Toshihiro Arai failing to make it to the end of the rally.

Solberg's retirement promoted Skoda's Armin Schwarz up to third - the Czech outfit has never had a podium at this level.

The German, whose Octavia was suffering from a soft right rear shock absorber, finished the section fourth quickest, just behind the remaining Ford of Francois Delecour.

The Frenchman was trying to pressure Schwarz for his place on the overall lead of the rally, but mechanical glitches stymied his efforts.

"At the start, fourth gear was hard to select," said Delecour. "Then halfway through we heard a bad vibration like the prop shaft broke. We also had a puncture on the right rear. I was trying to catch Armin and I was pushing hard, but now I go carefully."

The second Skoda of Bruno Thiry was fifth fastest, and he too had problems with the shock absorbers.

"The car is just very tired," said the Belgian. "The shocks are very soft."

Freddy Loix keeps his sixth place overall, despite a turbo boost problem drastically reducing his speed. He completed the section almost 39 minutes further back than pace-setter and team mate Makinen.

For Sect. 10, Oltepesi results click here.

For full live timings table click here.

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