Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) conceded time to Gronholm on the first two stages but was quickest on each of the final six tests to build a 21.8sec lead. Behind Hirvonen, Manfred Stohl (Peugeot) retained fourth while Toni Gardemeister (Citroen)...
Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) conceded time to Gronholm on the first two stages but was quickest on each of the final six tests to build a 21.8sec lead. Behind Hirvonen, Manfred Stohl (Peugeot) retained fourth while Toni Gardemeister (Citroen) climbed from seventh to fifth and Xevi Pons (Citroen) completed the top six. Henning Solberg (Peugeot) restarted after going off on the final stage last night. He had to cope with hot water pouring onto his legs from the engine bay for much of the day but the Norwegian climbed to eighth. Dani Sordo (Citroen) dropped 30sec after a slow roll on the second stage but damage was small and he lies 10th. Chris Atkinson (Subaru) stalled under braking on the penultimate stage and went off into a ditch. The Australian was unable to get out and slipped from fifth to ninth. Luis Perez Companc (Ford) retired from eighth on stage 11 with broken power steering while team-mate Matthew Wilson ended his day on the penultimate stage when he went off after a gear selection problem sent his car into neutral.
Kronos Total Citroen
Having started the morning with a 6.4 second deficit to the leader, Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and their Kronos Total Citroen Xsara fought back. After a tight battle, they lead Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen by 21.8 seconds overnight. At the end of a trouble-free day, Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio hold sixth place. Dani Sordo and Marc Marti re-started the leg under the Superally regulations and made up four places to end the day in the top 10.
Sebastien Loeb: I am particularly pleased with the second half of my day. Yesterday we proved that we could really fight with Marcus and this morning confirmed that. Then the wide BFGoodrich tyres, which were perfect for the road conditions on the second run through the stages, allowed us to make a difference. "
Daniel Sordo: " So here I am in 10th place, on one manufacturers' point for now. My engine is working perfectly, so it was a good idea to stop as soon as we had the problem yesterday - even if it did cost us 10 minutes. Nonetheless, I'm kicking myself for having made a mistake this morning, on a junction that we did not make a good note of on the recce. As a result we had a slow roll, but luckily the damage was very minor.
The OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team has every reason to be content with day two of the "Cyprus Rally 2006", as well. After 16 of 22 special stages Manfred Stohl and Ilka Minor lie in excellent fourth place and are the best privateers. Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud have fought their way back into scoring range following their mishap on Friday and are in eight place after leg two.
Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor: "Sebastien Loeb is probably the best driver and the Ford works team currently has got the best material. Thus the result explains itself. But I still haven't given up hope. The rally only ends on Sunday on the finish ramp. And it is still a whole leg to go until then."
Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud: "The brake disks on the front right side overheat so much that they glow while the ones on the left remain ice cold. That makes it very hard to stabilise the Peugeot 307 WRC. But we will keep fighting for WRC-points. This is a rally where time differences are measured in minutes. It doesn't mean a thing when you are only seconds apart."
BP-Ford World Rally Team remains on course to close the gap on the leaders of the FIA World Rally Championship after ending today's second leg of the Cyprus Rally with both drivers in podium positions. Marcus Gronholm and Timo Rautiainen lie second in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car with team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen third in a similar car after another day of gruelling driving in the baking mountains.
Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen: "I don't know why I lost so much time in the long stage this afternoon. I think maybe I had the wrong tyres. I had different tyres to Seb but I have never tested the rubber that he used so I don't know if they would have been better or not. But tyres are not the whole reason. It must have been my driving as well. I had no rhythm and it is so slow here that normally it is so difficult for a driver to take big amounts of time from a rival. We had been so close all rally. I also had a small spin on a slow corner, when I had to reverse the car. Now I have to decide what to do tomorrow. It will be hard to catch Seb, but I thought the same in Japan and it almost happened there. I hope he doesn't sleep well tonight!"
Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: "Stohl was driving hard and was close this morning so I continued to push. On SS11, I hit a big stone so hard that it knocked the breath out of Jarmo and he couldn't read the pace notes for a couple of corners. It was good to have someone pressing me because it kept the motivation and concentration levels high. This afternoon I had a larger gap and was able to monitor his split times in the stages.
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford
The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Team had a desperate day after the cars of Matt Wilson and Luis Perez Companc both failed to complete the second leg of Rally Cyprus. But the 3rd car driven by Juan Pablo Raies made it home safely.
Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr: "The car is in mint condition so it was so gutting when we couldn't get it back on the road. We'd had some gear selection problems on the stage before so I knew when I came into the hairpin that things weren't good. I tried the hand brake but it wasn't enough."
Luis Perez Companc: "I'm obviously very disappointed as the car had been fantastic and just one small failure meant my rally was over. It was so rough out there and there was no way I could continue without power steering. It's hard enough as it is! The team will fix it today and tomorrow I will head back out and complete Rally Cyprus under SupeRally."
Petter Solberg started the day in 11th position, but a determined performance elevated him to seventh overall with one day of competition remaining. Team-mate Chris Atkinson consolidated his fifth position throughout the morning with a string of top eight times, however his challenge was brought to a premature end on the penultimate stage of the day when his engine stalled under braking and he ran wide into a ditch and retirement from the Leg. Chris is expected to restart tomorrow's action under Superrally regulations.
Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: 'We had a better day than yesterday, but it's still difficult to attack without the traction and with our start position. The stages this afternoon were some of the roughest we have seen, however we'll keep pushing to the finish and ensure that the fans have a show.'
Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: 'Generally we had a pretty good day. Up until stage 15 we were holding our position comfortably when unfortunately we had a bit of a problem under brakes and it sent us off the road, I'm not sure why, we'll have a look at the data but we ended up parked in a ditch. The car looks ok, there's a bit of damage on the right rear where it's resting against a tree. Hopefully we'll be able to get it back and get going again tomorrow.'