Rally New Zealand — Day One

You’ve got love rallies on the other side of the world. Here it is, 7:00am on Friday morning, and we have Friday’s results already….

Petter Solberg currently holds first place after a steady day behind the wheel of the Impreza. Solberg has held the lead for all but one stage, and he has a slim five second lead over Peugeot’s Harri Rovanpera heading in the break. The other 307 of Marcus Gronholm is holding third place, another 30 seconds behind Rovanpera. Gronholm had been running well, but a roll on SS6 has dampened his chances. Ford’s Markko Martin hold fourth, and the latest Citroen driven by Seb Loeb is fifth. Neither the Xsara or the Focus have been particularly impressive so far, with both Loeb and Carlos Sainz giving the Xsara it’s fair share of criticism.

Expect Solberg to put his foot down tomorrow and show the rest of the field what he and the Impreza are capable of. I’m sure he’s not terribly concerned with Rovanpera — the Finn has a history of blowing in a close rally (see last year’s events in Turkey and Australia). Solberg has a good cushion over the rest of the field already, so a steady, quick drive from the Norwegian should get his championship defence back on track.