WRC

Cyprus: Subaru World Rally Team leg two report

Cyprus Rally Leg 2, 20 April 2002 Summary The 2002 Cyprus Rally resumed this morning at 0600hrs when 47 cars left the overnight parc ferme on the promenade at Limassol. With a total of 146 competitive kilometres and eight stages, Leg two was the...

Cyprus Rally Leg 2, 20 April 2002

Summary
The 2002 Cyprus Rally resumed this morning at 0600hrs when 47 cars left the overnight parc ferme on the promenade at Limassol. With a total of 146 competitive kilometres and eight stages, Leg two was the longest of the event.

It had rained overnight and the first two stages were damp and slightly muddy. The sun made an appearance to dry the remainder of the morning's roads but the rain returned for SS11 and was torrential on SS12. Temperatures in the woods around the first three stages were slightly cooler than yesterday at around 15ºC - but inside the cars crews were coping with temperatures of more than 50ºC.

In a thrilling day of rallying, leg two saw numerous battles erupt throughout the top fifteen places. At the head of the field, Colin McRae and Marcus Gronholm were both anxious to claim their first victory of the season. But pushing hard in third was 555 Subaru World Rally Team driver Tommi Makinen who continued to make an impressive gravel debut in the Impreza WRC and set the fastest time on SS9.

Tommi's young Norwegian team-mate Petter Solberg put in an excellent performance despite running second on the road, and acting as road-sweeper for the remaining cars. He was second on stage nine, then won on ten, eleven, twelve and thirteen. By the end of the day he had climbed eight places, holds eighth overnight and is pushing hard for a points finish - a remarkable recovery considering he was 28th after SS3.

The day saw five works-team retirements, four of which occured on a perilous SS12. Alister McRae, Roman Kresta, Freddy Loix and Bruno Thiry all retired when heavy rain turned the road into a river. The same stage was due to be repeated in the afternoon as SS14 but faced with a wash-out organisers decided to cancel it.

Stage Reports

SS7 0712hrs Prastio - Pachna (10.92km)
Fastest Time: Sainz (Ford) 6:29.0

The first challenge of leg two was a fast and technical 11 kilometre section. Carlos Sainz left his troubles of yesterday behind to take the stage win. Marcus Gronholm finished second ahead of Colin McRae - further closing the gap on McRae's lead to just 5.3 seconds. The Peugeots of Richard Burns and Harri Rovanpera tied fourth place. Petter Solberg was sixth - he lost time when he slid off the road, while Tommi Makinen was eighth. But a miserable start for Mitsubishi - their highest placed driver, Jani Paasonen, retired after hitting a rock and breaking the steering on his car.

SS8 0815hrs Platres - Saittas (11.25km)
Fastest Time: Sainz (Ford) 9:21.2

Another fastest time for Carlos Sainz on Platres, which featured a muddy surface with fast bends for the first six kilometres and then shifted downhill to a fast section with hairpins. Colin McRae was second and re-opened the gap again between himself and Marcus Gronholm, who was fifth. Harri Rovanpera was third and Richard Burns fourth. Petter Solberg, running second on the road, was sixth, 1.2 seconds ahead of team-mate Tommi Makinen. Things just got worse for Mitsubishi when Alister McRae rolled his Lancer, but he was able to continue.

SS9 0858hrs Kourdali - Spilia (30.62km)
Fastest Time: Makinen (Subaru) 29:21.8

The longest stage of the event and a emphatic Subaru 1-2 finish. Tommi Makinen took the victory, seven seconds ahead of Petter Solberg. The results promoted Tommi from fifth to third on the overall leaderboard and Petter from 15th to 13th. Elsewhere the battle intensified between Colin McRae and Marcus Gronholm who, after finishing fifth and seventh respectively, were separated on the leaderboard by just 1.9 seconds. Gabriel Pozzo, who was running first on the road, lost his car's power steering on the previous stage and limped through Kourdali, eventually forfeiting around nine minutes. Disappointment for fourth placed Francois Duval, he retired when his Ford lost oil pressure. In the wars too Francois Delecour - his car broke a drive shaft, the second of the event.

SS10 1148hrs Prastio - Pachna 2 (10.92km)
Fastest Time: Solberg (Subaru) 6:14.3

The action continued to hot up on the second trip through Prastio, where crews found a drier, clearer road. Petter Solberg took the stage win, continuing his admirable form and closing in on Janne Tuohino in 12th. Harri Rovanpera was second, creeping up on Markko Martin's overall fourth place, just 8.7 seconds behind him. Tommi Makinen sustained his efforts by finishing joint third with Richard Burns and taking more time from Colin McRae and Marcus Gronholm, who finished sixth and seventh. After SS10 Tommi was just 24 seconds off the lead.

SS11 1251hrs Platres - Saittas 2 (11.25km)
Fastest Time: Solberg (Subaru) 9:02.7

A repeat of SS8 saw rain after the first three cars and another brilliant performance from the 555 Subaru duo. Tommi Makinen proved he was really back in the game by taking yet more time from Marcus Gronholm and reducing the deficit to his fellow Finn to just 19 seconds. Petter Solberg claimed a remarkable win on the 11.25km test by finishing a full 17 seconds ahead of his nearest rival and found himself promoted to tenth overall. Colin McRae finished second, extending his overall lead to 10 seconds. Delecour was third and Richard Burns fourth Tommi was close behind in fifth. Harri Rovanpera rolled his Peugeot but managed to restart relatively quickly. He lost around half a minute and his overall fifth place to Richard Burns.

SS12 1326hrs Foini - Koilinia (29.88km)
Fastest Time: Solberg (Subaru) 29:31.3

Foini should have had a twisty and narrow start before progressing to open bends and a fast sweeping finish, but the weather played the biggest part in the action with stormy conditions and torrential rain hammering down on the road and making it incident filled. Francois Delecour had to stop in the stage twice when his windscreen wipers failed. Freddy Loix retired when a gearbox selector problem prevented him from going uphill. Alister McRae's miserable run of luck finally ended in retirement with a transmission problem. While at Skoda, Roman Kresta crashed out in his Octavia WRC. It was, however, another brilliant run and stage win for Petter Solberg, who by now was in ninth overall position. Marcus Gronholm finished second and opened the gap on Tommi Makinen to over a minute after Tommi hit something 20kms in and damaged the right hand rear wheel rim. He finished the stage slowly and finished ninth. Colin McRae was second, Armin Schwarz fourth and Richard Burns fifth.

SS13 1656hrs Platres - Saittas 3 (11.25km)
Fastest Time: Solberg (Subaru) 9:24.6

The third run through of Platres turned out to be the final test of the day and was a repeat of SS8 and SS11. Petter Solberg won his fourth stage in a row and his fifth of the event, his time earning him another notch up the leaderboard to eighth overall. Tommi Makinen finished ninth to keep hold of his third place overall. Richard Burns was second with Peugeot comrade Harri Rovanpera third. Carlos Sainz was fourth followed by Colin McRae.

SS14 1731hrs Foini - Koilinia 2 (29.88km)
Fastest Time: n/a

The repeated Foini stage was cancelled by event organisers due to the serious deterioration of the road caused by the wet weather conditions.

-www.swrt.com-

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Tommi Makinen , Colin McRae , Carlos Sainz , Freddy Loix , Richard Burns , Harri Rovanpera , Marcus Gronholm , Petter Solberg , François Delecour , Alister McRae , Jani Paasonen , Armin Schwarz , Roman Kresta , Janne Tuohino , Gabriel Pozzo , Markko Martin