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GP Week : Issue 140
We knew we had to plan this right; we had to do things tactically. “Richard used that first long stage to gauge the pace, see how we were doing and make the plan about it. We were 13th fastest, nearly a half minute behind the leaders. That was a useful indicator. Then came the last representative stage that day. Te Papatapu was the famous one that started at the Bridal Veil Falls, down near Raglan, and this is where all the team people started furiously trying to calculate the times their drivers had to cover the stage in order to optimise their Day 2 running order. “Near the end of the stage we were shown a time after which we should ideally finish the stage. It didn’t look right, so we did a time slightly slower than the time we were shown, intentionally. We found ourselves restarting in an ideal 9th place. If we’d done the time we were shown we would have been first on the road! It was all very close. After 117kms of stages only 12.1 seconds separated the top seven cars.” on-stage calculations in those days were very primitive and there were so many teams all trying to do the same thing. “It was not like now where you’ve got split times to watch during a stage, and you know exactly what everybody else has done. We used to have a guy 500m before the finish with a board and a pen and a stop watch, another guy a further kilometre into the stage and a guy at the finish line, all with radios trying to communicate, all doing their mental arithmetic, deciding what was needed and what was happening. It was quite a complicated procedure. “I think Marcus Gronholm’s people at Peugeot had made a bit of a mistake as well. Marcus ended up where he never wanted to be, second! “We started Day 2 in ninth place on the road and 47.7 seconds behind the surprised leader who was Kenneth Eriksson. The Hyundai team never even tried to engineer their restart position. They avoided all the fun and games and suddenly put a Hyundai in the hugely political position of leading a world championship rally for the first ever time! “ The second leg of the rally was run in Northlands, starting off with the 59km stage called Parahi/Ararua and immediately, in one stage, we jumped from ninth to the lead! In this one stage we had taken 20 seconds off fourth- running Colin McRae, almost 45 seconds off third running Sainz, and it just got better. At midday we were 25.3 seconds ahead; by the end of the day we were 42.6 seconds in the lead. In 176 kms that day, we had gained nearly a minute and a half. “ There had been a lot of talk in the team the night before. People were saying that throwing away 45 seconds was much too Images courtesy Martin Holmes 46