Starters Ninety seven of the original 102 entries restarted leg two this morning. Route The second leg was the longest and toughest of the event. Crews tackled two identical loops of four stages split by a return to Trier for a midday...
Ninety seven of the original 102 entries restarted leg two this morning.
The second leg was the longest and toughest of the event. Crews tackled two identical loops of four stages split by a return to Trier for a midday service. The stages varied in character from the smooth flowing public roads of the Saarland region to the gravel-strewn, broken concrete of the military training area at Baumholder.
The weather was relatively settled today. It started with mist and cloud cover this morning, and the temperature at service C (0710hrs) was 10 degrees Celsius. Asphalt temperature was the same. The skies cleared towards lunchtime, with a little cloud cover shortly after lunch. Air temperature rose to 23 degrees Celsius by mid-afternoon, and asphalt temperature a touch higher at 26 degrees Celsius.
Sordo (Citroen); Stohl (Citroen); Al Qassimi (Ford)
Subaru World Rally Team summary
Today's second leg of competiton on Rally Germany has been an encouraging one for the Subaru World Rally Team. All day Chris Atkinson has demonstrated the Impreza WRC2007's stage winning pace on asphalt. The 27-year-old Australian was in the top three on five of the day's eight tests, including two outright wins and one second-fastest. Although not completely comfortable with the feeling of his car, Petter Solberg had a solid day. He climbed two places to seventh and is firmly in the battle for fifth overall. Xevi Pons continued to learn on his first asphalt rally for Subaru and lies in a comfortable eighth position overall.
SS7: 0710HRS ST. WENDELER LAND 1 (16.37KM)
Day two of the rally started from 0700hrs when crews left parc ferme in
Trier. After a 10-minute service, drivers made the 71km journey south
east to Saarland and the 16km St. Wendeler Land stage. Although the early
morning sun was shining, the temperature was still a cool 13 degrees
Celsius as cars began the section and the combination of a fast, narrow
road and cold, slick tyres led to numerous close calls. Subaru's drivers
had their fair share of excitement in the conditions too -- Chris
Atkinson overshot a junction, Xevi Pons spun into a field and Petter
reported his car felt nervous on the cold tyres - but each completed the
Fastest time: Hirvonen (Ford) 8m 52.6s
SS8: 0906HRS BOSENBERG 1 (19.00KM)
Bosenberg is one of the fastest stages of the rally and with trees lining
much of the route, it leaves little margin for error. Although the
ambient temperature had increased a degree or two since SS7, accurately
judging the level of grip available as tyres warmed-up remained of
critical importance. Chris Atkinson quickly adapted to the conditions and
recorded a strong fourth fastest time. Pons too had a better stage, and
was seventh quickest. Petter Solberg was eleventh on the stage and
remained unhappy with the feeling of his car. But with a 15-minute remote
service before the next stage he now had the opportunity to make some
Fastest time: Loeb (Citroen) 10m 39.5s
SS9: 1029HRS ERZWEILER 1 (16.51KM)
Including numerous surface changes and dozens of junctions in its 16km,
the stage from Erzweiler was the first of those run in the Baumholder
military region. The dirty and bumpy concrete surface was in stark
contrast to the two smoother asphalt roads that preceded it and as the
first cars swept loose material from the racing line, road cleaning
became a performance factor. Running fifth on the road, Petter Solberg
had to contend with the worst of the sand and gravel but, having made
adjustments to his car's steering arms in service, he showed improved
pace and was fifth fastest. Making full use of his advantageous placing
of 11th on the road, Atkinson was the quickest Subaru driver and recorded
the third fastest time.
Fastest time: Gronholm (Ford) 9m 55.9s
SS10: 1102HRS ARENA PANZERPLATTE 1 (30.55KM)
Crews remained in the military zone for the fourth stage of the day.
Arena Panzerplatte ('tank range' in German) featured narrow roads lined
with large concrete boulders known as Hinkelstein. Although the weather
remained dry, the dust and sand dragged up by the tanks that commonly use
the roads made the surface exceptionally slippery. Although the stage is
in the same region as Erzweiler, the road is quite different, with more
90-degree corners and a more abrasive road surface. Atkinson revelled in
the conditions and brought his car over the line in the third fastest
time. Petter Solberg was sixth, with Pons, who reported heavy tyre wear,
Fastest time: Loeb (Citroen) 17m 57.4s
SS11: 1445HRS ST. WENDELER LAND 2 (16.37KM)
Following a 30-minute midday service, loop two of the day started with a
return to St. Wendeler Land, the opening stage of the day. With the
temperature having risen since early morning there was more grip
available. Petter was third car through the stage and set
the eighth-fastest time. During the service before the stage, the front
dampers on Petter's car were replaced and he felt the car's handling had
been transformed. Xevi was fifth to run, driving a problem-free stage to
seventh fastest. Chris suffered a small spin in the first few kilometres
and then had a front right puncture, but completed the stage inside the
Fastest time: Hirvonen (Ford) 8m 51.6
SS12: 1518HRS BOSENBERG 2 (19.00KM)
The second run of Bosenberg also offered improved grip with the increased
asphalt temperature since the morning's visit. Chris put in a stunning
performance to record his second stage win of the rally in convincing
style, 5.1 seconds faster than Loeb in second. Demonstrating just how
competitive he and Stephane Prevot were in the Impreza WRC2007 on
asphalt, Chris said: "We should have won the last stage without that
spin, so this win just proves again that the Impreza WRC2007 is very
quick. The times have been there all weekend so people shouldn't be that
surprised. I'm feeling good about the car and we know the speed is
there, so to take another win is great for me and the team, especially
that fast". Both Petter and Xevi also had good stages, just 0.8 seconds
apart to finish sixth and eighth respectively, Xevi extending the gap to
Latvala just behind him in ninth overall.
Fastest time: Atkinson (Subaru) 10m 27.4s
SS13: 1641HRS ERZWEILER 2 (16.51KM)
Following the second 15-minute remote service of the day, the crews
returned to the Baumholder region. With the field having passed through
the stage during the first loop, the second started with the surface in
better condition; the loose gravel and dirt being swept away first time
round. Still, the surface was no less rough or demanding of the drivers.
With Al Qassimi not starting the stage, Petter was second on the road
and, feeling more confident in the car, completed the stage fifth
fastest. Chris continued his afternoon of good form with second fastest,
while Xevi finished ninth, but crucially still ahead of Latvala, in
Fastest time: Loeb (Citroen) 9m 45.5s
SS14: 1714HRS ARENA PANZERPLATTE 2 (30.55KM)
With the concrete becoming ever grippier, tyre wear was a crucial factor
in deciding performance. Despite some damage to his right front tyre, it
didn't stop Chris Atkinson taking another stage win, his second of leg
two and third of the rally. Petter set the sixth fastest time, saying:
"the stage was so much cleaner, but you still had to be very careful.
Tyre wear was critical and it was important to take care of them over the
30km". Xevi increased the gap over nearest rival Latvala to 37.4 seconds
to end the day in a comfortable eighth overall.
Fastest time: Atkinson (Subaru) 17m 49.8s
Subaru World Rally Team managing director Richard Taylor:
"Chris has had a really excellent day. He's broken back into the top ten at the finish, but really his pace over the whole rally, with the exception of one stage, has been podium-pace without a doubt. We're very pleased with him and he's done a great job. Petter had a slightly difficult morning but has been able to improve his pace this afternoon. He's still in a battle for fifth place, and there are another 63km tomorrow where he can try and work his way up the leaderboard. Xevi has also done very well. He's been in a battle of his own for a points-scoring position and has pulled away consistently this afternoon. Certainly we're looking forward to having at least two cars in the points at the end of tomorrow."
"This afternoon was better than the morning, that's for sure, but we still have a problem somewhere that's affecting the steering, but that's just how it is. We'll see if the guys can do something with it now - it could be from the impact yesterday when we bent the steering, we'll see. I'm pleased that Chris is showing what the car is capable of, and from that perspective it's been a good day for the team. I'll try my best tomorrow."
"We've been fine-tuning the set-up on the car today and concentrating on learning -- after losing time yesterday that's all I can do. I keep making improvements to my driving, I'm still making mistakes here and there, but there's a lot to learn -- this is only our second asphalt rally on BFGoodrich tyres -- but obviously we're not learning too slowly. I'm very pleased with the speed today. We were consistently fast, which is pretty cool. Two years ago I did my first asphalt rally, and it was never going to happen straight away, but it's pretty good to be doing these sort of times now. Tomorrow I'm going to drive just the same, there's no reason not to. If we can do some more quick times then it's good for Subaru."
"This morning wasn't so good because I had a spin into a grassy field and, as it was wet, it took a lot of time, and some spectators, to get it back. But okay, this afternoon it was good, the times are coming I'm more comfortable in the car, and I'm happy. Tomorrow I hope to continue in the same way, getting more used to the car and trying to improve a little more with every stage."
Tomorrow the teams return to the vineyards of Mosel for the shortest leg of the rally. At only 62.81 competitive kilometres, the first two stages visit the narrow vineyard roads before returning to Trier itself for the superspecial stage Circus Maximum Trier. An entirely new stage for 2007, it is based in the heart of the town and has a unique format that means at times there will be four cars running at once, spaced only 15 seconds apart.