Alister McRae leads China Rally by 58 seconds after day 1 and seven stages of twisty mountain gravel stages and fast flowing concrete roads. McRae has not put a foot wrong all day and driving with confidence especially on the tight mountain sections.
Team-mate Chris Atkinson is third and nearly two minute adrift and is unable to put a finger on why he hasn’t been able to keep pace with McRae.
The Proton’s are split by Finnish driver Jari Ketomaa and while a minute down on McRae is ready to strike if the Scotsmen has any problems on the seconds day.
Indonesian driver Rifat Sungkar has had a day to forget after two punctures cost the Pertamina-Cusco driver over 10 minutes and is currently down in 10th place overall.
Sungkar’s team-mate and last years APRC winner Yuya Sumiyama is 5th overall and ready to up the pace on the second day.
Akira Bamba leads the two-wheel drive race, 38 seconds in front of Malaysian Karamjit Singh.
Nathan Quinn dropped to 23rd place after a wheel rim shattered and destroyed the brake lines. Further problems in the afternoon cost the young Australian more time but is happy to be still in the event and learning the Chinese roads.
Tomohide Hasegawa has had the ideal co-driver for this event with multiple Japanese Rally Champion Fumio Nutahara in the hot seat. “I made some co-driver errors calling ‘left’ when it should have been ‘right’ but this afternoon its been good, really enjoying a new challenge’ Said Nutahara at the end of day service.
Gearbox problems put Muhammad Rafiq out after Stage 4, Fan Fan retired with a lack of brakes and Brian Green went out with a ruptured fuel tank.