WRC

Rally Australia: Subaru leg two summary

Both Subaru World Rally Team drivers demonstrated highly competitive pace throughout Leg two with Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson taking a combined total of three stage wins. After losing time in Leg one Chris made good progress back up the ...

Both Subaru World Rally Team drivers demonstrated highly competitive pace throughout Leg two with Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson taking a combined total of three stage wins. After losing time in Leg one Chris made good progress back up the leaderboard, taking two wins and moving from tenth to sixth place. Petter started the Leg with a comfortable overall lead, which he extended with a win in the first test of the day. But a shock lay in store on the next stage when a high speed collision with a hapless kangaroo destroyed his car's radiator. The resulting engine damage brought his rally to an end after SS13.

Stage Reports

SS12 0925hrs Bannister North 1 (17.71km)

Leg two started with the Bannister North stage in the Sotico tree plantation south east of Perth and included the famous stomach-churning Bunnings jumps and water splash. The roads, more commonly used by logging trucks, were dusted with a loose, marble-like gravel that made conditions especially slippery for the first cars through. Overnight leader Petter Solberg used his road position of 11th to great effect to set the fastest stage time, more than four seconds faster than Francois Duval and Harri Rovanpera. Chris Atkinson lost approximately 10secs when he had a high-speed sixth-gear spin eight kilometres from the start. He was lucky to escape with nothing worse than a missing front bumper and dropped around 10 seconds. Sebastien Loeb did not restart Leg two following his accident on Leg one.
Fastest Stage Time: Solberg (Subaru) 8:32.2

SS13 0957hrs Bannister Central 1 (17.85km)

Six weeks after his eleventh hour retirement in Japan, there was more terrible luck for Petter on the second stage of the day. Approaching the midway point, and speeding through a straight section at 190kph, a kangaroo jumped into the road in front of his car. Unable to take evasive action, Solberg's Impreza collided with the animal and suffered extensive damage to its cooling system. The engine immediately began to lose fluid through a ruptured radiator and although Solberg was able to get the car across the finish line, the extreme heat had damaged the engine irreparably. Solberg and Mills retired on the spot. Toni Gardemeister also slowed with spark plug problems and finished the stage more than 40secs slower than stage winner Rovanpera. Australian charger Chris Atkinson continued to climb the leaderboard as he moved into ninth overall ahead of Dani Sola, only seven seconds from eighth-placed Gardemeister.
Fastest Stage Time: Rovanpera (Mitsubishi) 9:21.8

SS14 1041hrs Bannister Loop (3.62km)

Apart from the Superspecial, the Bannister Loop was the shortest stage of the event, designed to avoid a long liaison section between the North and Central speed tests. The extremely fast 3km stage was won by Mitsubishi's Rovanpera who, following Solberg's retirement, leapfrogged McRae into second position. New rally leader Duval set the third fastest time, just behind Armin Schwarz. Chris Atkinson moved ahead of Gardemeister into seventh overall, only 13secs from the Finn's team-mate Roman Kresta in sixth.
Fastest Stage Time: Rovanpera (Mitsubishi) 1:56.2

SS15 1203hrs Bannister North 2 (17.71km)

The repeat of the Bannister North stage gave spectators another chance to see cars jumping high into the air over the spectacular Bunnings jumps close to the end of the stage. Duval extended his lead over Rovanpera with the fastest stage time, but reported a puncture close to the end of the test. Rovanpera and McRae came through second and third fastest, marginally faster than Toni Gardemeister, who had changed all of his spark plugs on the road section between SS14 and SS15. The Finn's time moved him back into seventh ahead of Atkinson, who reported that the handling of the car had been adversely affected by the lack of a front spoiler. The Australian nevertheless recorded the seventh quickest time.
Fastest Stage Time: Duval (Citroen) 8:27.8

SS16 1235hrs Bannister Central 2 (17.85km)

The last stage before service was a repeat of Bannister Central in the pine forests. On the quickest stage of the rally with plenty of flat-out straights, crews approached speeds of nearly 200kph but several reported that the stage had become a lot rougher on the second pass, with deep ruts in places. The 17km section brought several changes to the leaderboard as McRae moved into second place ahead of Rovanpera. The Mitsubishi driver spun in the midpoint of the stage and dropped 10secs to stage winner Duval. Subaru's Chris Atkinson regained seventh position from Gardemeister with a time over five seconds faster than the Finn while Gigi Galli gained fourth place from Manfred Stohl as the Austrian picked up a puncture close to the finish line.
Fastest Stage Time: Duval (Citroen) 9:15.4

SS17 1631hrs Beraking 2 (23.03km)

The first stage after service was a repeat of Leg one's Beraking stage, one of the most difficult tests of the event with its fast, flowing, but also very undulating, road. After his service crew fitted another front bumper and spoiler in the 30 minute halt in Perth, Subaru driver Chris Atkinson had a trouble-free run to score his first stage win of the Leg and lie just two seconds off sixth-placed Kresta in the overall standings. Belgian Francois Duval was second fastest to extend his lead over Colin McRae to 25secs, while Citroen privateer Manfred Stohl moved into fourth place ahead of Gigi Galli.
Fastest Stage Time: Atkinson (Subaru) 12:44.0

SS18 1717hrs Flynns 2 (19.87km)

The 20km Flynns stage was the last of the forest stages before the Superspecial in Perth. Despite being at a disadvantage with his early road position, Atkinson had an exceptional run through the sandy, dusty stage to score another stage win, nearly four seconds faster than second quickest Rovanpera. The Australian vaulted Kresta into sixth position, and moved to within striking distance of fifth-placed Galli. Mitsubishi's Italian driver lost time through the speed test when he went straight on at a junction halfway through and dropped over 40secs to Atkinson. Rovanpera and McRae continued their closely-matched battle for second position, finishing the stage just 0.1secs apart.
Fastest Stage Time: Atkinson (Subaru) 11:43.3

SS19 / SS20 1915hrs Perth City Super 5 & 6 (2.35km)

Leg two concluded with two runs through the Perth Superspecial. Rovanpera recorded his second Superspecial win with victory in the first run, while Duval scored his third win of the day in the second. Roman Kresta had a solitary run through the second stage as Dani Sola, his scheduled head-to-head opponent, was forced to delay his start. The young Spaniard had a turbo fire after the first pass and had to stop to extinguish the flames. He later ran through the second stage on his own but incurred a 40secs penalty for checking into the time control late.
Fastest Stage Time: SS19: Rovanpera (Mitsubishi) 1:35.1 / SS20: Duval (Citroen) 1:34.4

Team Quotes

Subaru World Rally Technical Director, David Lapworth
Another good day for Chris. His times this afternoon were particularly impressive and he's already making progress up the leaderboard. Apart from the spin he's kept out of trouble and at this rate he's well on course to achieve a good result despite the bad luck on Friday. In sport there are some things you can control and some you can't. Everything was going perfectly for Petter until lunchtime today. He was controlling his pace, leading the rally and was very happy with the car. The incident with the kangaroo was totally beyond our control but we just have to accept that the nature of rallying is that natural hazards and these kinds of outside factors are all part of the drama. While it looks like we won't get to finish the season with the win we felt we deserved, our performance both here and in Japan leaves us both upbeat and confident to put the record straight next year.

Petter Solberg
I feel a bit like I did after our retirement in Japan. Everything was going perfectly, the car was just right, we had the speed and then something just came out of the blue. Obviously I'm terribly disappointed for Subaru and the whole team, they deserved this win. I sincerely hope we've used up all our bad luck now. Hitting the poor kangaroo was a horrible experience, but there was no time to avoid it, I suppose Phil and I were lucky in some respects because if he'd been up in the air I reckon he could have come through the screen and hit us both. Up to that point things had been going perfectly. I wasn't pushing hard at all, there was no need for a big attack, but when you're on a long straight you always go flat out and there was nothing I could do to avoid it. It's incredible really, we didn't see a single one on the recce and yet this happens today. Still, it is some consolation that we have the silver medal in the drivers' championship this year and that's still a good result for all of us. We'll be back next year looking to set the record straight.

Chris Atkinson
On the whole we've had a good day today. Things didn't get off to the best start with the spin on the first stage but considering the less than perfect road position and the lack of our front spoiler, we did all we could. This afternoon I was far happier with the way we went. We were able to win some stages and I'm pleased with our progress from tenth to sixth. For tomorrow I'll just keep on pushing and try to take more time from the guys in front. There are still another 100kms left to go and I'll do all I can to get the best possible result.

News From Pirelli

Terenzio Testoni, Pirelli Tyre Engineer
We feel very sorry for Petter, who was in a clear lead before his problems this morning. It was a real shame a kangaroo got in his way as today's sandy stages suited our tyres extremely well and would have helped to make a big difference. This has been proved by Chris' excellent performance and we will be doing all we can to help it continue tomorrow.

Tomorrow's Leg

Crews leave Perth parc ferme from 0630hrs for the final Leg of Rally Australia. The Leg comprises two loops of three stages and 103.32 competitive kilometres with the speed tests taking place near the town of Mundaring to the east of the host city. The final Leg includes the longest stage of the event, Helena North at 29.93km. The podium finish is scheduled for 1445hrs in Perth.

-subaru-

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