After re-starting this morning, Chris Atkinson moved seven places up the leaderboard to end the day in 13th position overall. Setting a string of top-ten times aboard his Subaru Impreza WRC2005, the WRC newcomer experimented with his car's set-up and fulfilled his objective of gaining experience of both his car and the specialist event. Concern about the condition of his Subaru's engine meant that Petter Solberg did not restart the Leg.
SS7 0848hrs Platres - Saittas 1 (11.12km)
In a temperature of 24 crews with a combination of hot, rough terrain, with scattered rocks on the apexes of corners and a sequence of tricky hairpin bends. Starting the stage with a healthy overnight lead of more than two minutes, Sebastien Loeb was fastest, with Markko Martin second and Toni Gardemeister third. Re-joining the event following a clutch problem on Leg one, Subaru driver Chris Atkinson was eighth fastest, while Anthony Warmbold broke his Focus' rear anti-roll bar and was 11th. Following his retirement on the first day of the rally, Petter Solberg had intended to re-start at the beginning of Leg two. But after inspecting Solberg's car when it returned to the service area in Limassol on Friday night, the team decided to withdraw him due to concern about the condition of his car's engine. (See separate quote from David Lapworth) Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 9:11.2
SS8 0931hrs Fioni - Koilinia 1 (30.33km)
The second-longest stage of the event was exceptionally twisty and narrow and included sections of smooth tarmac and abrasive concrete. As the air temperature rose to 33 test for competitors' tyres, while the rock-lined narrow route demanded the ultimate in precision driving. Skoda driver Janne Tuohino lost almost five minutes with a turbo boost problem on his Fabia and, by the finish, had fallen from ninth to tenth overall. Setting an average speed of 66.12kph, Citroen's Loeb was fastest, with Gardemeister 3.9 seconds slower in second and Duval a further 5.6 seconds back in third. Contesting his first ever WRC Cyprus Rally, Subaru's Chris Atkinson was running second on the road, a considerable disadvantage in such dry and dusty conditions, and was eighth fastest. Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 27:31.4
SS9 1029hrs Galatareia - Pentalia 1 (13.33km) A relatively short stage, but the tricky nature of the 13km test from Galatareia meant it took more than 10 minutes for each competitor to complete it. Running alongside a river, it included patches of abrasive concrete, a deceptive downhill section and a series of rocky, sweeping bends. Contesting the stage in an air temperature of 34 Chris Atkinson suffered an electronic gear-selection glitch when his Impreza got stuck in first gear two kilometres from the start. He stopped his Subaru to switch from a manual gear change system to an automatic mode and continued to the finish. After curing his car's turbo problem on the road section before the start, Janne Tuohino was back on the pace and finished 11th. Once the test was complete, crews returned to Limassol for a mid-point 30-minute service. Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 10:07.4
SS10 1352hrs Platres - Saittas 2 (11.12km)
The temperature dropped to 25 afternoon stages, there was some light cloud cover and even a few localised rain showers. Although the Leg two stages were generally smoother and sandier than those on the first day, the road surface on the repeated run was littered with rocks and became more rutted with every passing car. Loeb was fastest to take his fourth win of the day, while Duval was second fastest and Harri Rovanpera third. Ford privateer Henning Solberg and Peugeot's Markko Martin had become locked in a battle for overall third. Martin had the edge on this stage, but at the finish he still trailed the Norwegian by 1.3 seconds overall. Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 8:58.0
SS11 1435hrs Fioni - Koilinia 2 (30.33km)
The Cyprus Rally lived up to its fearsome reputation on the repeated test from Fioni, as more leading WRC competitors succumbed to the difficult conditions. Armin Schwarz's Skoda was launched into the air when it hit a large rock 6km from the start line. The German's car went off the road and out of the Leg, while Ford privateer Anthony Warmbold came to a halt with no oil pressure in his Focus. He too was unable to continue. Francois Duval's Xsara skidded off the road 4km from the start, crashed into a tree and caught fire. Both Duval and his co-driver St their Leg to an end in dramatic fashion. After Duval's crash, organisers stopped the stage and the remaining drivers, including Sebastien Loeb, drove an alternate route to the start of SS12. They were later given a notional time. Fastest time: Gardemeister (Ford), Loeb (Citroen) 27:05.8
SS12 1533hrs Galatareia - Pentalia 2 (13.33km)
In another incident-filled stage, Toni Gardemeister suffered a front puncture and dropped a minute and a half, while Harri Rovanpera's day came to an end after hitting a rock and damaging the front suspension of his Lancer. As a consequence of the delay caused by Duval's accident on the earlier stage, the field had become split into two groups - those who had completed SS11 and those who hadn't. This disruption meant that only eight cars were able to contest SS12 as planned, before organisers stopped the stage for safety reasons. The remaining competitors returned to service and were awarded a notional time. Fastest Stage Time: Panizzi (Mitsubishi), Loeb (Citroen) 10:49.7
Petter Solberg retired from Rally Cyprus today due to concern about the condition of his car's engine after problems experienced on Leg one. The team took the decision late on Friday night after inspecting the car when it returned to the service area in Limassol.
Team Principal David Lapworth commented: "Clearly we're disappointed that Petter is unable to continue, but concern about the extent of the damage makes it unwise for him to do so. On SS4 the air-filter on Petter's car became heavily clogged with sand and gravel. Running in this condition for many kilometres has led to a number of concerns, and was the cause of Petter's problems at the start of SS6. In the circumstances we felt it would be better to withdraw from this event and be ready to challenge for victory in Greece* rather than compromise our chances by aiming for a points finish here, with a question mark over the extent of the damage to this engine."
* In normal circumstances, competitors must use the same engine for the WRC rounds in Greece and Cyprus.
David Lapworth, Subaru World Rally Team Principal: "Chris has had a good day. Despite running near the head of the field, in the worst of the road conditions, he's put in some excellent times and I'm sure he's learned a lot today."
Chris Atkinson: "We've seen some pretty rough conditions out there again today, especially on the second pass through the stages, but we've managed to keep out of trouble and have had a productive day. I'm in the fortunate position of being able to experiment with different driving styles and car settings to get the best performance in these conditions. I'm looking forward to doing more of the same on tomorrow's final Leg."
News From Pirelli
Fiore Brivio, Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager: "It's a shame that Petter is no longer running, but Chris has been able to increase his knowledge of our tyre range in these tough conditions. He's also helped us to gather information that will be extremely useful for both him and Petter in Turkey and Greece."