Today has been another good day for us, though a long, hot one, which included two passes over the longest stage in this year’s World Championship.
The morning loop of stages went well, and included a PWRC win for us, by 16 seconds, on the first run through the 48km Panzerplatte stage. By the time we arrived back at service, we had narrowed the gap to PWRC leader Armindo Araujo from 32 seconds down to 15 seconds. In the afternoon we went with the hard compound tyre, as road temperatures were reaching 40 degrees. Some of our competition took the soft tyre and took time out of us on the shorter first stage of the loop, but we recovered it all in the next two stages, winning them both. We pushed hard through the repeat of the Panzerplatte stage, but this time surrendered 9 seconds to Armindo, who now has a 23.8 second lead over us, with a further minute back to third place Patrik Flodin.
All in all it has been a consistent day for us, my confidence with the car and the surface growing stage by stage. This afternoon especially felt good, as I started to push harder while still taking no unnecessary risks.
The long Panzerplatte stage is certainly challenging and even more so in the hot temperatures today. It is very difficult with all the surface changes – going from one corner that has a lot of grip, to the next which is dirty and the next which is bumpy tarmac, which you seem to bounce over rather than bite into and get grip. However, it was very enjoyable and the car is performing faultlessly.
As I begin to push harder I am starting to find that I need to make chassis adjustments to the car to counter the under steer that we had today. Prior to the event I did not change the car a lot, as it was doing everything that I wanted, but now, once you start braking later and carrying more corner speed, the chassis is more vital to get that last little bit. So it is all a good learning curve.
Tomorrow we have four reasonable length stages, so it is not all over yet for the win. However, they are tight vineyard roads, similar to those we encountered on Day 1 and Armindo was very fast there. So it will be hard to make up the time in outright speed, but we are close enough to still put some pressure on, which we will continue to do. I will keep you posted.