WRC

Cyprus Rally: Subaru leg two summary

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...

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.

Stage results

SS9: 0838hrs Kellaki - Foinikaria 1 (9.49km)

After a 10 minute service in Limassol crews headed back to the Troodos mountains for the second day of competition. The first part of the stage was fast and flowing, however many crews reported very loose gravel and an exceptionally slippery surface. Second overall Sebastien Loeb ran wide midway through and lost around five seconds, but there were no such problems for rally leader Marcus Gronholm, who secured his fifth win of the event. Mikko Hirvonen was third quickest, despite reporting a recurring engine misfire on his Focus. Subaru's Petter Solberg was fifth fastest to move back into the top ten overall, while team-mate Chris Atkinson finished the stage just behind in sixth place.
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Ford) 8:01.4

SS10: 0916hrs Akrounta - Apsiou 1 (7.99km)

The 8km pass from Akrounta to Apsiou was one of the slowest stages of the rally with an average speed of just over 60kph. Dani Sordo, who had restarted today under Superrally regulations following his Leg one retirement, rolled his Xsara close to the start of the stage, however landed the right way up to continue to the finish, more than 45secs slower than stage winner Gronholm. The Ford driver extended his advantage over Loeb, with the gap growing to 10.2secs. Chris Atkinson's solid Cyprus performance continued as he posted the fifth quickest time, just ahead of Petter Solberg.
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Ford) 7:44.9

SS11: 1034hrs Foini - Koilinia 1 (30.33km)

The battle for the lead intensified as Loeb took his first stage win of the day through the 30km Foini stage, capitalising on Gronholm's problems with overheating brakes. The rough Cypriot roads again gave exceptionally slippery conditions and many drivers reported a lack of grip, including both Subaru drivers and Citroen privateer Toni Gardemeister. Henning Solberg lost over a minute and a half as he reported his Peugeot's engine was leaking hot water, which was seeping into the cockpit over both him and co-driver Cato Menkerud. The Stobart team also endured a difficult stage as Matthew Wilson lost his front bumper and Luis Perez Companc's power steering failed. He pulled off the road and retired from the Leg, allowing Petter Solberg into ninth overall, just 0.2secs behind brother Henning.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 26:20.8

SS12: 1132hrs Galatareia - Pentalia 1 (11.33km)

Henning Solberg finished the stage with his Peugeot's cockpit literally swimming in water. Forced to drive with saturated overalls, boots and gloves, the Norwegian struggled to grip the wet steering wheel and pedals and dropped nearly one minute through the 11km pass. The problems benefited brother Petter, who moved up a further place into eighth overall. Gardemeister was left ruing a mistake which led him off the racing line and cost him ten seconds. Australian driver Chris Atkinson maintained fifth position overall with a solid sixth fastest time.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 8:17.8

SS13: 1425hrs Kellaki - Foinikaria 2 (9.49km)

After a 30 minute service in Limassol crews returned to the Troodos for a repeat of the morning's speed tests. Road conditions were treacherous as the surface had become extremely rutted with the earlier running of the stage. Henning Solberg's water leak persisted, with the distraction causing the Norwegian to fall further behind brother Petter, who recorded his best finish of the day with the third fastest time. Loeb and Gronholm once again monopolised the top two positions, the Frenchman a mere 0.6secs faster than the Ford driver.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 8:01.7

SS14: 1503hrs Akrounta - Apsiou 2 (7.99km)

In a dramatic twist, Loeb moved into the lead of the rally ahead of Marcus Gronholm as the Finn spun his Focus before the first time split. He lost 8.9secs to Loeb, which was enough to ease the Frenchman into the lead by one second. Mikko Hirvonen was third fastest ahead of Petter Solberg and Manfred Stohl while Chris Atkinson was seventh fastest to maintain fifth overall.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 7:35.4

SS15: 1621hrs Foini - Koilinia 2 (30.33km)

SS15 brought more disappointment for the Subaru team when Chris Atkinson stalled under braking 16km from the start and ran wide into a ditch. The impact damaged the Australian's right-rear wheel and, without any spectators close enough to push him back on the road, he was forced into retirement from the Leg. Atkinson's misfortune elevated Gardemeister and Pons into fifth and sixth overall. Matthew Wilson was another stage casualty; the young Briton picked up a gear selection problem and could not turn into a corner 4.5km from the start. He retired from the Leg. At the front of the field, Sebastien Loeb stormed through the stage more than 16secs faster than Gronholm to further extend his lead of the rally.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 25:56.1

SS16: 1719hrs Galatareia - Pentalia 2 (11.33km)

Petter Solberg continued up the order on the final stage of Leg two. The Norwegian finished the pass with the fourth quickest time to move into seventh overall ahead of brother Henning, who once again complained of water running into the car. Securing his sixth win of the day, Loeb extended his lead over Gronholm to more than 20secs, while Mikko Hirvonen was third quickest to consolidate his third position overall.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 8:09.7

Team quotes

Subaru World Rally Team managing director, Richard Taylor Today is a day typical of many Cyprus rallies. The stages are very hot, rough, and a real test of endurance for the drivers and cars alike. We continue to work to get the drivers closer to the top of the leaderboard, however there is more to do to close the gap than is possible this weekend. Both drivers have shown great perseverance and have been able to battle towards the front of the field on some stages. Chris was unlucky to be caught out on SS15 and drop back from fifth place, however we will be working to ensure both cars are back tomorrow gaining valuable data in preparation for the remainder of the season.

Petter Solberg
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
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.

News from Pirelli

Mario Isola, Pirelli Competizioni Rally Manager
Once again the Subaru team used the XR tread pattern throughout today's competition. In conditions such as this we see the real endurance of the tyre and I am pleased to say that despite the hot, rough and slippery roads we have had no problems with the tyres. We continue to do all we can to support the team in their efforts to extract all the performance from the car.

Tomorrow's Leg
An amended final Leg itinerary will feature six stages and 85.35 competitive kilometres. After a 10 minute service, crews will head west of Limassol for a loop of three stages before returning to the host city for a brand-new Superspecial through its narrow streets. The podium finish is scheduled for 1715 following a further two speed tests in the afternoon.

-credit: swrt

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