Trailblazer Burns says eat my dust
RICHARD Burns, the British rallying sensation, added nine seconds to his first-day lead in the 555 Hong Kong-Beijing Rally yesterday, in spite of driving blind through thick dust in northern Guangdong province. 'The stages were slippery, which was bad enough, but to guess where the road was going made life interesting,' said the Subaru driver.
'There were big drops off either side of the mountains we were climbing. We didn't want to be going off.' Burns was fastest on the first of the days' three stages, but lost time in the dust and behind a limping Kenjiro Shinozuka. Shinozuka, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer, clipped the driver's side front wheel on a tree in a Special Stage Three, breaking a steering rod. He lost 13 minutes when he had to take off the bent wheel and drive with the suspension trailing on the ground.
The first major retirement of the rally was China's Lu Ning-Jun, driving an identical Impreza to Burns'. His engine expired early on Sunday morning. Behind Burns, the two Mitsubishi drivers Kenneth Eriksson and Armin Schwarz are charging. Eriksson, who recently completed reconnaissance of the route, took advantage of his knowledge and passed Germany's Schwarz into second place. Eriksson leads the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, of which the 555 Hong Kong-Beijing Rally is the penultimate round. Only Possum Bourne is in with a realistic chance of preventing Eriksson taking the driver's title.
Bourne, the reigning Asia Pacific Rally champion dropped from third to fourth afater losing more time than the other front runners in the soft, sandy conditions.
'Running first is tough, especially for the next day or two. Today was like driving a boat, not a car, it was so floaty. There was just no way to control the car,' said Bourne.