The crews which survived the Kafkaesque nightmare that was leg one of the Rally Cyprus faced two loops of three stages on today's second leg, totalling 110 competitive kilometres.
After examining the engine of Marcus Gronholm's 307 WRC at first service this morning, it was decided that the Finn would not re-start. The valves of the engine were too badly damaged following the timing belt breakage that sidelined him on day one. Subaru's Petter Solberg also did not start, after retiring with engine problems.
Following the first loop of three stages today, Markko Martin closed to within 1.7 seconds of the podium. A sprinkling of rain gave tyre choice an extra twist at the midday service halt. Peugeot Sport gambled on the stages remaining dry, which proved to be the correct decision. But the second loop still sprang plenty of surprises, such as Francois Duval's roll from which the crew escaped uninjured before their Citroen caught fire. The stage was stopped and notional times given to Manfred Stohl and Sebastien Loeb on the final two stages. As well as Duval, Harri Rovanpera, Antony Warmbold and Armin Schwarz also retired, while Toni Gardemeister was held back by mechanical problems.
Markko Martin: "It's not been a bad day, and I've had no real problems. I've just concentrated on keeping the car on the road and avoiding all the dramas that seem to have affected everybody else. I am currently second of the manufacturer entries, and with no chance of taking the lead there is no point in pushing. This rally has been a real trial, and I'm just looking forward to getting to the finish tomorrow."
Jean-Pierre Nicolas: "We can be satisfied with our work today, thanks to Markko Martin's fourth place but more importantly his second position among the manufacturer entries. Markko has not needed to dig deep to stay in contention and bring us the maximum points possible. This Rally Cyprus has been a real minefield that has decimated a large number of our rivals. There are still 95 competitive kilometres and six stages to go. Anything can still happen -- the best as well as the worst!"