Franz Wittmann/Klaus Wicha after seven special stages of the Monte Carlo Rallye currently in good sixth overall place

The Interwetten duo is getting ever better acquainted with the Peugeot 207 S2000, especially on snow, and therefore gathers valuable experience for the rest of the rally

Superior leader is Vice-World Champion Mikko Hirvonen ahead of Finn Juho Hanninen, Kris Meeke dropped out by accident

On the second day of the 78th Rallye Monte Carlo three special stages that will be completed twice have been scheduled. At this first IRC run of the season, 46 of initially 59 teams took up the fight for seconds and minutes this morning in Valence.

Weather conditions were good, the roads partly icy, especially SS 5, followed by mainly snow on SS 6 and several dry passages on SS 7. Thus the choice of tyres became paramount. At Interwetten Racing it was decided by Franz Wittmann/ Klaus Wicha, to rely on cut spikes for the first two stages while choosing two snow tyres in front and two spikes in rear for SS 7.

This choice proved to be absolutely right. For at the Monte Carlo Rallye the result by far outweighs the achieved time. Wittmann finished ninth on SS 5 in Labatie d'Àndaure over 25,3 km, on SS 6 he came in as eighth, a feat he repeated on SS 7.

Wittmann: "The three stages in the morning really were something. On SS 5 our intercom once more malfunctioned. Therefore we couldn't communicate with each other for some time. As second car on the road on SS 6 we obviously were somewhat of a snowplough for the following cars which cost us some time. Eighth place on SS 7 was a lot of fun while driving - snow tyres in front and spikes in the read were an unfamiliar feeling. I am nevertheless satisfied with current sixth intermediate place and, what's even more important, I'm getting to know the perfectly running Peugeot 207 S2000 better and better. Also, the rally still has some way to go, especially today's three remaining stages - the same ones as in the morning - will be thrilling."

At the top Finn Mikko Hirvonen widended the gap on his countryman Juho Hanninen to 1,08 minutes. Second-placed Kris Meeke dropped out by accident on SS 5, Stephane Sarrazin crashed into a snowwall and Toni Gardemeister and Jan Kopecky had to cope with tyre defects, thereby losing some time.

-source: sportpressedienst