Harri a Strong Second in Australia Peugeot driver Harri Rovanpera has ended leg two of the Rally Australia in second place, after a fast and reliable run in his 307 WRC. Conditions on the Rally Australia, the last round of this ...
Harri a Strong Second in Australia
Peugeot driver Harri Rovanpera has ended leg two of the Rally Australia in second place, after a fast and reliable run in his 307 WRC.
Conditions on the Rally Australia, the last round of this year's championship, were dry and warm over all of today's 10 stages, which culminated in two runs over the packed spectator superspecial in Perth City. The route consisted of fast and flowing gravel roads to the east of rally headquarters in Perth, characterised by loose and demanding surfaces.
Harri started the day in third place, and had no problems at all throughout the leg apart from a small off-road excursion on the second stage of the day. In the afternoon he concentrated on consolidating his position in order to safeguard a strong points haul for himself and Peugeot
The Finn said: "Everything is going very well so far. We had no problems at all apart from the off on the second stage which maybe cost us about 10 seconds. The car is feeling good and I am quite confident. We are second now and although the gap to the front is quite big there is still a long way to go and anything can happen. The important thing is that the car has been fast and reliable, which is a very good sign for the future."
Unfortunately, his team mate Marcus Gronholm was forced to retire from the lead, having dominated the action on leg one. Marcus started this morning with a lead of 20 seconds, having driven quickly and reliably over the opening leg. But he was forced to retire from his winning position just three kilometres into the opening stage this morning after going off on a left-hand corner.
The Finn said: "We came into the corner with normal speed, but the ruts were much deeper than they had been yesterday, and the car started to slide on the sump guard. This put us into a 360-degree spin and we hit the front and the back of the car against a tree. I tried to start the engine, but after the impact there was something rubbing against the alternator belt, so the engine would not restart. Finally we managed to get it going again, but it was too late. It was a real pity as the speed and the reliability of the car has been perfect. We just needed a bit more ride height to get through that corner."
The final leg of the Rally Australia and 2004 World Championship gets underway early at 0530 tomorrow, before crews tackle six stages. The last four stages are run consecutively without service and include the famous 'Bunnings Jumps', providing the season with a dramatic finale.