Weather: Grey skies and damp roads after overnight rain. Morning stages dried out quickly, those in the afternoon were damper and muddier. On the stages, temperatures ranged between 3=BAC in the morning and 10=BAC in the afternoon. At the end of...
Weather: Grey skies and damp roads after overnight rain. Morning stages dried out quickly, those in the afternoon were damper and muddier. On the stages, temperatures ranged between 3=BAC in the morning and 10=BAC in the afternoon.
At the end of today's second Leg of competition on Rally Argentina, Petter Solberg holds third place overall. For much of the day Solberg was part of a breakaway group of three drivers involved in a thrilling scrap for the lead, but his ability to fight was affected by a brake problem in the afternoon, and he was forced to drive more defensively on the last few stages. Making his Rally Argentina debut, Chris Atkinson racked up another trouble-free day in his Subaru, meeting all of his development objectives and trading times with far more experienced drivers. Chris finished the day with a flourish by setting the third-fastest time on the last stage.
SS11: 0900hrs Santa Rosa de Calamuchita - San Agustin 1 (21.41km)
conditions, crews collected their cars from the overnight park ferme in Carlos Paz and began the journey to the southern group of stages. The first four tests of the day were all based in the Sierras around the town of Santa Rosa de Calamuchita, a 100km drive away. Weather conditions on the first stage were an improvement over those in Carlos Paz and, although there had been some overnight rain, it had stopped by 0500hrs, leaving the stage surface damp rather than wet. Petter Solberg was the early pacesetter in his Pirelli-shod Impreza WRC2005, stopping the clock 3sec quicker than Marcus Gronholm, who was next fastest, and 7sec quicker than Loeb who was third. Fastest Stage Time: Solberg (Subaru) 13:04.3
SS12: 0953hrs Las Bajadas - Villa del Dique (16.35km)
One of the fastest roads of the rally, the 16km test from Las Bajadas to Villa del Dique featured a twisty and technical section in the middle, but began and ended with a flat-out sprint. Once again, the fastest times were set by the trio of Gronholm, Loeb and Solberg, with Gronholm edging ahead of his rivals on this occasion. The Finn moved 4sec closer to Solberg's second place on the overall leaderboard, while Solberg kept the pressure on event leader Loeb. Fastest Stage Time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 8:41.0
SS13: 1039hrs Amboy - Santa Monica (20.29km)
Glenn Macneall's nomination for the fastest stage of the rally, the 20km test from Amboy to Santa Monica is littered with blind crests, jumps and sudden drops which launch cars into the air. Marcus Gronholm set the quickest time, with Citroen's reprieved driver Francois Duval second and Superally re-starter Gigi Galli third in a Mitsubishi. Loeb and Solberg were fourth and fifth respectively, their times just 0.3sec apart after ten and a half minutes of driving. Solberg reported that he could have been quicker, had it not been for an incident 5km before the finish when he ran wide on a left-hand corner and clipped a bank with his car's right-rear corner. The suspension geometry was knocked out of alignment in the incident, and Solberg and his co-driver Phil Mills stopped to make roadside repairs en route to the final stage before a 30-minute mid-Leg service. Fastest Stage Time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 10:26.5
SS14: 1159hrs Santa Rosa de Calamuchita - San Agustin 2 (21.41km)
Marcus Gronholm completed a hat-trick of stage wins on the second pass through the Santa Rosa de Calamuchita - San Agustin test. Loeb was the next fastest, with Solberg third. Gronholm's winning margin of 4.9sec was enough to move him ahead of Solberg on the leaderboard and into second place overall. Chris Atkinson drifted wide on a corner and touched a bank with the back of his car, the incident caused no serious problems but cost Chris a couple of seconds and his Impreza its rear bumper. Straight after the finish, crews drove 100km north to Carlos Paz and a 30-minute service halt. Fastest Stage Time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 12:59.0
SS15: 1514hrs Carlos Paz - Cabalango 2 (14.51km)
The afternoon loop of stages began with a visit to the 14km test in Carlos Paz, previously run on Leg one as SS3. Although the sky remained cloudy, little rain has fallen in the service park since 1000hrs. The road surface on the afternoon stages remained damp and there were some very slippery muddy sections. Fresh from the visit to the service area, Sebastien Loeb set the quickest time with Marcus Gronholm second and Gigi Galli third. Petter Solberg was a notable absentee from the top-three after a rear brake caliper was broken by a rock six kilometres from the finish line. The Norwegian pushed on regardless to complete the stage, but suffered as a result of the damage and lost 12sec to Loeb in the process. Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 9:56.4
SS16: 1547hrs Tanti - Cosquin (9.43km)
At only nine kilometres long, the special stage from Tanti was the shortest of the rally. It started slow and twisty and then opened out to a faster section with sweeping corners, a full-speed watersplash and a flat-out sprint to the finish. Loeb's relentless pace continued and he set the fastest time, closely followed on this occasion by Harri Rovanpera in second, and his Mitsubishi team-mate Gigi Galli in third. Before the stage, in an effort to limit the damage caused by his broken brake caliper, Petter Solberg sealed off the brake circuit and continued with mainly front brakes only. Despite this handicap, his time was only seven seconds slower than Loeb's and he held on to his third place. Chris Atkinson notched up another good result as part of his long-term development strategy. Feeling increasingly comfortable in the conditions, but still with less than two full days of Rally Argentina experience, the quick-learning Australian recorded the sixth-fastest time. Fastest Stage Time: Fastest time: Loeb (Citroen) 5:53.4
SS17: 1640hrs Valle Hermoso - Casa Grande (10.95km)
The final test of the day was a repeat of another short stage from Leg one, this time the Valle Hermoso to Casa Grande section, previously run as SS10. Marcus Gronholm recorded another fastest time to nibble a small 1.1sec piece out of rally leader Loeb's lead. The Frenchman was second-quickest while Subaru's Chris Atkinson rounded off his successful day with the third-fastest time - his best stage result of the rally so far. Petter Solberg did his best to drive around his lack of braking power and was sixth-fastest, he still held third place overall. Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 5:54.4
Subaru World Rally Team Principal, David Lapworth
It's been a frustrating day for Petter. One step forward and two steps back. He started the day with a fastest stage time and then lost time with bent suspension and then this afternoon his brake problems started almost before he got into the rhythm of the first stage. Petter is not settling just for a podium position and I think we will take the fight to Marcus tomorrow. Chris meanwhile has had another good day. His times been improving, his understanding of the car is getting better and he has put in a very solid drive.
This just wasn't my afternoon. On the first stage a rear caliper started to leak the brake fluid, probably when a big rock punctured it, and I had absolutely zero brakes for six kilometres. I managed to make some fixes after the stage, but I only had two or three brakes for the next stages. It was a big bit of bad luck. The stage conditions were very tricky, being so muddy, and I was off the road a couple of times. I think Sebastien may be too far away to catch tomorrow, however I'm definitely not happy with third and up at El Condor anything could happen as those stages are very difficult.
On the whole today was pretty good. I made a few small set-up changes after the midday break and they were going in the right direction. There was so much water and mud on the road - I think everyone was off the road at various times as it was so slippery. I remember we were going backwards while flat out in first gear at one point! I'm pleased that we were able to set good times and get so close to the top of the timesheets, especially against some of the big names. Tomorrow, I'll keep doing what I'm doing and hope that it is enough to make up a place and get in the points.
News From Pirelli
Fiore Brivio, Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager: "Petter went from a harder tyre choice in the morning to a softer one for the wet and cold conditions of the afternoon, which we felt was ideal for the circumstances. Unfortunately, he had other problems which prevented him form exploiting the potential of these tyres to the maximum, but he still has every chance of moving up the order tomorrow."