Vatanen narrows gap on leaders
BRUCE MACDONALD reports from Chang Sha
SUBARU Legacy cars hold the top three places at the end of 10 stages of the 555 Hong Kong to Beijing Rally yesterday with Finn Ari Vatanen the big mover.
Slowed by fuel pump problems on Sunday and relegated to fifth place, the former world champion moved two places up the ladder as the rally headed through Hunan Province.
Still leading is Kiwi Possum Bourne from teammate Colin McRae, who sliced 23 seconds off his overall lead, now standing at one minute and six seconds with 16 stages to go.
Vatanen hauled in Japanese Mitsubishi Lancer drivers Yoshio Fujimoto and Kenjiro Shinozuka to be just under three minutes off the lead.
Said a confident Vatanen: ''I will have one of my teammates for breakfast and the other for lunch. Maybe not tomorrow, but by Wednesday.'' Bourne is enjoying his starring role at the front of the pack, whittled down to 27 vehicles.
The twisting downhill stages were just what Hong Kong's Michael Lieu needed in his tiny Subaru Vivio, powered by a 660 cc engine.
He was fastest of all the Group N - cars which are only slightly modified mechanically - in one stage and lies in a highly creditable 11th place