IRC Rally Russia: Skoda's Hanninen Leads Day One

Tony CastaneiraAnalyst IJuly 9, 2009

Juho Hanninen finished day one of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge Rally Russia with a healthy lead as many of the big names were caught by treacherous conditions.

Leading from the start, Hanninen set the fastest time again as the field came through their second run of the night in the Kutuzovo stage.  He extended his lead over Skoda teammate Jan Kopecky by another two seconds over the 10.35km forest stage. Guy Wilks held third place in a fine showing for the new Proton Satria Neo.

Giandomenico Basso slipped to fourth at the end of the day in his Fiat/Abarth Punto.  Basso’s teammate, Anton Alen, followed 4 seconds behind in fifth despite high water temperature and bodywork damage from a tire puncture during SS3.

Local favorite and Russian champion Aleksandr Zheludov is now picking up the pace in his Peugeot 207 after fixing the ignition coil to hold sixth. Franz Wittmann's Mitsubishi Evo IX holds seventh overnight despite a pair of tire punctures, one in SS3 and one on the transit to SS4.  Boris Zimin is eighth in another Mitsubishi.  Kaspar Koilta is ninth and the leading 2WD car in a Lada.

The day’s four stages have taken a heavy toll on the local men with reigning national champion Zheludov's engine woes being minor compared to five-time former Russian rally champion Andrey Zhigunov. He suffered major suspension damage on SS 2 in his Mitsubishi and is dropping out.

Pos  Driver              Car         Time/Gap
 1.  Juho Hanninen       Skoda       28m28.5s
 2.  Jan Kopecky         Skoda       +  27.5s
 3.  Guy Wilks           Proton      +  46.5s
 4.  Giandomenico Basso  Abarth      +1m21.1s
 5.  Anton Alen          Abarth      +1m25.0s
 6.  Aleksandr Zheludov  Peugeot     +2m03.9s
 7.  Patrik Flodin       Subaru      +2m13.6s
 8.  Franz Wittmann      Mitsubishi  +2m45.0s
 9.  Boris Zimin         Mitsubishi  +3m52.7s
10.  Kaspar Koiytla      Lada        +4m37.6s

Photo: IRC