Sousa holds the advantage
Pons second, Kosciuszko third
Just two of the nine starters in the third round of the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship reached the finish of the opening day of the Jordan Rally as the fight for supremacy took its toll on the Middle East kingdom’s demanding gravel roads.
Four drivers took their turn to lead the new-for-2010 class but it was young Portuguese Bernardo Sousa, in a Ford Fiesta, who holds the advantage overnight after steering clear of the problems that befell his rivals.
“We had trouble finding our rhythm at first but it’s okay now because we’re leading,” said Sousa. “Now I must try to finish the rally and score as many points as possible because I’m in a very good position.”
Per-Gunnar Andersson was fastest on stages one and two but his challenge came unstuck on stage three when he went off the road and damaged his Skoda Fabia’s suspension. Nasser Al-Attiyah, in a similar Fabia, inherited top spot but he would be forced to retire on stage five when he crashed and damaged his car’s radiator to the extent he was unable to continue.
His misfortune allowed Michal Kosciuszko to move in front with two stages of the day remaining but the Pole failed to make it to the start of stage seven when his Fiesta suffered alternator failure on the road section heading to the test. That left Sousa in the lead, albeit a slender 12.1 seconds clear of Spaniard Xevi Pons, in another Fiesta. Pons said he had grown in confidence throughout the day after complaining about the set-up of his car at midday service.
Eyvind Brynildsen lost time in the morning when his Fabia dropped into two-wheel drive mode. He was fourth when alternator failure led to his exit at the finish of stage six.
Patrik Sandell, another expected frontrunner in his Fabia, was fifth after two stages but retired on stage three with broken steering. “I didn’t recall hitting anything more than normal,” said Sandell. “It was a hairpin before with a lot of stones but no hit like I thought we would have a problem.”
Janne Tuohino and his co-driving father Markku crashed their Fiesta on stage three. While it was a disappointing end to their challenge, at least they went further than countryman Jari Ketomaa, who didn’t manage to tackle a stage in anger due to his Fiesta’s engine failing just as he was about to drive over the start ramp in the historic city of Jerash.
All crews who retired on Thursday are expected to restart on Friday when they will tackle six stages, including two runs over the 41.45-kilometre Jordan River stage.
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