CDI Juha Kankkunen leads Caminos del Inca into Huancayo
Caminos del Inca 2007 (Inca’s Rally 2007)
For immediate release
Sunday, September 16th, 2007
KANKKUNEN LEADS CAMINOS DEL INCA
AFTER OPENING LEG INTO HUANCAY
Second place for De La Flor; Dasso finishes opening leg in third;
Spectator numbers force cancellation of super special stage;
British husband and wife crew suffer nausea on way to 44th place
HUANCAYO (Perú): Finland’s four-time World Rally Champion Juha Kankkunen and co-driver Seppo Harjanne led the 37th Caminos del Inca 2007 (Inca’s Rally) by a mere nine seconds after 75 teams finished the opening leg between the capital Lima and the first overnight halt at Huancayo, high in the Peruvian Andes, on Sunday.
Young Peruvian Raul Orlandini had been the revelation of the opening special stage from Moyopampa to La Orora, but Kankkunen and Peru’s Eduardo de la Flor (Subaru Forester) hit back in the faster second stage, with Kankkunen finishing the leg a mere nine seconds ahead of the Lima driver, who set the fastest time. Ricardo Dasso was third overall in his Subaru, despite having to stop with fuel pump-related problems shortly before the Portugalito hairpins.
“This is the highest I have ever raced at in my career,” said Kankkunen, who expressed his deepest condolences to the family of Colin McRae, on the eve of the first Andean stage out of Lima. “I tackled Pike’s Peak in Colorado and that was about 4,300 metres. But this was different. You need to drive a Group N car in a different way at these heights. At high altitude the turbocharger spins faster and is put under more strain. It is better to use the engine at higher revs to put less strain on the turbo.
“I took no risks today; no sideways, braking nicely for the hairpins. This is a long race. Tomorrow we will push harder. It was great to see so many people, so far up the mountain.”
Fuel consumption was high for drivers like Kankkunen on today’s punishing climb and the Finn had planned a fuel stop and tyre change into his strategy for the day’s two stages, despite the fact his Impreza was running with a larger fuel tank than normal.
Francisco Barco was fourth, Raul Orlandini eventually finished fifth and Ernesto Jochamowitz rounded off the top six. Last year’s winner Cesar Catano was down in 12th place.
Teams tackled the sinuous climb off the coastal plain into the High Andes this morning, which formed the first of two timed special stage sections. The first 125.50km special finished at the lead and silver mining town of La Orora, while the second, shorter 102.10km stage was much faster and headed from La Orora to Huancayo on smooth asphalt, passing numerous agricultural villages on the Mantaro River valley floor.
Myriads of spectators were prevalent on the gut-wrenching hairpins prior to the ascent into the lofty Anticona Pass, near Ticlio, where teams experienced altitudes as high as 4,814 metres above sea level in bright, sunny conditions. Thousands of spectators also attended the arrival of the cars into Huancayo, where a regular Sunday afternoon fiesta was underway to increase the party atmosphere.
The British duo of Simon Nutter and Howard Paterson finished the opening stage in 41st and 44th positions in their Prospeed-built Skoda Fabias. They had both been anxious about the performance of the 1.4-litre Skoda engines at altitude, but they survived the test nonetheless. Nutter hit trouble towards the end of ghe second stage, but Paterson finished the leg in 44th position.
“I can now say that I have rallied at the lowest and one of the highest points on earth,” admitted Paterson, referring to his numerous visits to the Dead Sea stages of the Jordan Rally and his passing through the Anticona Pass today. Paterson and his wife Ruth were forced to stop mid-way up the climb to La Oroya with altitude-induced nausea, although they managed to finish the leg in Huancayo.
Competitive action had begun on Friday evening in Lima with a two kilometre super special stage in the Chorrillos district. Because of the sheer number of spectators, event officials decided to run the stage as a non-competitive spectacle for spectators, rather than compromise safety by running a timed-to-the-second special stage.
“The sheer number of people was incredible,” said visiting British driver Simon Nutter. “You could see all around, thousands of spectators in the mountains. It was an incredible sight. We have been told to expect around one million people up in the Andes watching this rally in the next few days.”
“The sheer severity of the climb at the start of the day’s stage is probably the worst section of the entire rally in terms of altitude,” admitted seven-time Caminos del Inca winner Henry Bradley, who was running in the course opening car with his daughter Susan. “The altitude levels out over the next few days and becomes more bearable, but there are some very tricky, long gravel sections to come in the next couple of days.”
Tomorrow (Monday) teams will tackle the second 286.20km leg between Huancayo and Ayacucho. The day includes a 241km special stage and a shorter test, before teams will be permitted a rest day in Ayacucho on Tuesday.
The route features a typical paved road through the Peruvian highlands with pot holes and dust distinct possibilities There are two routes to Ayacucho, but Caminos del Inca 2007 will use the track that runs along the bottom of the Mantaro Valley, passing through the towns of Huacrapuquio, Acostambo and Izcuchaca, before heading towards Mayocc, Huanta and on to the overnight halt in Ayacucho.
The stage will not climb as high as the section into Huancayo, with drivers set to experience altitudes of between 3,250 metres and 2,750 metres above sea level. Ayacucho means ‘corner of the dead’ in Quechua and is known as the ‘city of the churches’. The population is primarily made up of meztizo or mixed race and many are involved in nearby agriculture.
Caminos del Inca 2007 – positions after leg one:
1.Juha Kankkunen (FIN)/Seppo Harjanne (FIN) Subaru Impreza WRX 1h 26m 45.0s
2. Eduardo de la Flor (PE)/Wilson Maruy (PE) Subaru Forester 1h 26m 53.8s
3. Ricardo Dasso (PE)/Michael Baca (PE) Subaru Impreza WRX 1h 27m 43.8s
4. Francisco Barco (PE)/Martin Elias (PE) Subaru Impreza WRX 1h 28m 51.8s
5. Raul Orlandini (PE)/Diego Zuloaga (PE) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 1h 29m 07.1s
6. Ernesto Jochamowitz (PE)/Gustavo Medina (PE) Mitsubishi SUV 1h 30m 56.2s
42. Howard Paterson (GB)/Ruth Paterson (GB) Skoda Fabia 2h 08m 29.0s
For further media information:
Neil and Angela Perkins, NDP Publicity Services, E-mail: NDPPublicity@compuserve.com, www.ndp-publicity.com (press releases) or Susan Bradley (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org), Tel: +51 966 56383.