WRC

Rally Catalunya: Leg two summary

Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) made a cautious start this morning before increasing his pace to set two fastest times. He ended the leg with a 34.4sec lead over team-mate Dani Sordo, the young Spaniard setting his first WRC fastest time this afternoon.

Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) made a cautious start this morning before increasing his pace to set two fastest times. He ended the leg with a 34.4sec lead over team-mate Dani Sordo, the young Spaniard setting his first WRC fastest time this afternoon. Xavi Pons (Citroen) was a comfortable third until the opening stage this afternoon when the Spaniard slid off the road on a slow, but gravel-covered, corner and retired. That allowed Alex Bengue (Peugeot) to take third. Behind Gronholm, Jan Kopecky (Skoda) is fifth with Francois Duval (Skoda) sixth, the Belgian struggling this morning with brake problems and a dragging sump guard. Petter Solberg (Subaru) slipped from fourth to seventh. The Norwegian dropped 40sec with a spin this morning but struggled throughout the rest of the day. Team-mate Chris Atkinson (Subaru) fell from the leaderboard after dropping a minute on the penultimate stage when he went off the road. He lies 12th.

Kronos Total Citroen

Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena, in the lead of the Catalunya Rally, followed by Dani Sordo/Marc Marti, in second, have successfully avoided the pitfalls of a tricky leg two. The two Xsara WRC drivers have kept up and even consolidated their positions at the head of the field. Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio unfortunately lost the third place they had comfortably maintained since yesterday, following an offroad excursion on 'Duesaigues 2' (SS10). Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: "It wasn't an easy day. I got off to a sensible start. Then I increased my rhythm carefully, while paying great attention to all the potential pitfalls. Tomorrow, I'm still going to have to drive quickly. Dani [Sordo] has grasped the 'user guide' to the Xsara pretty quickly ! In the near future, he's going to become a very wellknown customer." Xavier Pons/Carlos Del Barrio: Retired (accident)

OMV-Peugeot Norway

This weekend means heavy labour for Manfred Stohl and Ilka Minor. Since no experience value exists for the BF Goodrich tyres and the Peugeot 307 WRC on tarmac, the optimisation of the performance has to be explored step by step.

Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor: "The car is great and the tyres, as well. All we have to do is to find out how they can work together perfectly. I feel very good during the special stages but the times don't fit yet. It takes a lot of concentration to evaluate each change."

BP-Ford

BP-Ford World Rally Team drivers Marcus Gronholm and Timo Rautiainen were fastest over today's second leg of the Rally de España to power their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car back up the leaderboard into fourth place. The Finns were fastest on three of the six asphalt speed tests to put yesterday's time loss behind them and move to within just 4.1sec of a podium place. Team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen were second fastest on the leg as the Focus RS emphasised its pace on its debut on a pure asphalt event. The Finns restarted this fourth round of the FIA World Rally Championship in 15th this morning after identical turbo wastegate troubles to Gronholm yesterday. They shared a fastest time with their team-mate as they climbed to 11th and both Focus RS WRCs hold points scoring positions.

Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen: "Yesterday was disappointing but that is in the past and we are now back fighting for points," he said. "My driving has been as good as it was yesterday. I've not been right on the limit, but close to it. Fourth was my target. We've achieved that and now a podium is possible. I think we can do it, but maybe we don't need fastest times to make it.

Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: "We set strong times and that's all I can do," he said. "While I would have liked to be leading, I know that I can fight with Loeb in this car. My start position today was good. Second on the road meant there wasn't any dirt on the stages this morning and that's something the drivers further back had to put up with. I'm not driving at maximum pace - but fast enough. With luck I think I can get to seventh or eighth. I will drive flat out and see just who we can catch. It's easy for anyone to make a mistake so I have to stay 100 percent focused."

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford

Day two of RallyRACC Catalunya-Costa Daurada saw Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team driver Matthew Wilson set a steady pace with impressive split times on stages as the young Brit continued with his debut on the Spanish round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Wilson, in his first year of the WRC, had one eye on his return to Spain next season as he worked with co-driver Michael Orr to refine his notes on the day's 111.36km of competitive distance. Whilst Wilson reckoned he could have gone faster on occasion, the pair were happy with the progress they made in what is very much a 'learning year'.

Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr: "It's true, I was driving like a wimp. But overall, it was quite good. We're still here, but we could have done better. We had a mistake on the fourth stage of the day, we spun just after a slow corner. It was nothing major but it lost us maybe 16 seconds. In the second stage this afternoon we just can't seem to get it right, the notes, and I don't have any confidence in the car. The last stage of the day was trouble free except for a little mistake under braking and some bits and pieces, but nothing major. We've had good splits and I've learning from each stage, it's just piecing every bit together now. I've been keeping an eye on Steve Perez in his car and it looks like he's enjoying himself, I hope he decides to come back for some more."

Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila: "The morning was a little difficult but after a while I started to find confidence and we were able to do some good stage times today. We wanted to get some good stage times and we got them so I'm very happy about that. I'm very happy now, I can sleep well tonight. I have to remember not to hit concrete barriers in rallies, it goes so much better then. We will try to set good stage times again tomorrow."

555 Subaru

The Subaru Impreza WRC2006s of Petter Solberg and Stephane Sarrazin continued to run faultlessly throughout the second day of Rally Catalunya. The form was not however reflected in the final Leg positions as the duo struggled to find grip on the slippery Spanish asphalt and dropped to seventh and eighth respectively. Chris Atkinson maintained his impressive performance as he matched the pace of more experienced drivers to end the Leg twelfth overall despite losing time stuck off the road after a spin on the penultimate stage.

Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: It's been a difficult day. "Yesterday was quite good however now today we are not at all close. There was so much loose gravel on the surface, more than we have seen before, and maybe that was a factor. It's encouraging that the car is working well, but still we need to look at every detail to see what we can do tomorrow."

Stephane Sarrazin/Stephane Prevot: It's been hard today as we still haven't found a set-up and balance that give me the feel and confidence that I want to push harder. For tomorrow the stages are better for us and we hope to be able to try and improve the car again for next week, when we are back again on asphalt in Corsica.

Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: We've had another encouraging day and learnt a lot. We made one mistake which cost us a bit of time, but the rest of the stages have been nice and clean and tidy and we've been fast, even beating our team-mates at times. Hopefully we can move up the places that we lost with the mistake, however apart from that there's not a lot more that we can do.

Red Bull-Skoda Team

Today's second leg of the Rally Catalunya was a very satisfying one for the team of Red Bull Skoda. In the presence of Skoda's technical director Dr. Harald Ludanek the drivers were both able to achieve several top ten times as well as get both Fabia WRCs within points range for the manufacturers' championship.

Gilles Panizzi/Herve Panizzi: "It wasn't very easy, I was the first car running the stages today, still there were a lot of stones and loose chippings. We found a good setup for the car which showed in the times we were able to do."

Andreas Aigner/Timo Gottschalk: "But my top priority was to overtake Matthew Wilson of England, which I managed to do on the long stage this afternoon. I really found a good rhythm. Up until now I only enjoyed driving on gravel, but now I notice that I continue to make progress on asphalt as well."

-www.rallye-newsletter.com/

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About this article
Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team , M-Sport