Petter Solberg's (Subaru) hopes of catching Gronholm suffered a blow when he slid off the road for almost 30sec on the opening stage and dropped to third. He regained second, but hit a gatepost this afternoon and damaged his car's steering which...
Petter Solberg's (Subaru) hopes of catching Gronholm suffered a blow when he slid off the road for almost 30sec on the opening stage and dropped to third. He regained second, but hit a gatepost this afternoon and damaged his car's steering which cost a minute and second place. Manfred Stohl (Peugeot) kept out of trouble to reclaim second, 49.9sec clear of Solberg. Xevi Pons (Citroen) climbed to fourth, edging out Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford). Chris Atkinson (Subaru) rounded off the top six, despite being unhappy with his car's set-up this morning. Francois Duval (Skoda) had steering problems this morning but recovered well to hold seventh ahead of Dani Sordo (Citroen), who dropped 90sec after a broken gearbox forced him to tackle the final two stages of the morning loop with only three gears.
Kronos Total Citroen
Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio finish a challenging second day on the verge of scoring their first podium in a World Rally Car, having battled through wet and muddy weather that is typical of Wales in December. The Spanish duo are fourth, with less than 25 seconds separating them from a coveted podium place. Dani Sordo/Marc Marti are in a points-scoring eighth after experiencing a transmission problem in the morning.
Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio: " In the afternoon it was raining really hard from the start of stage 10, but luckily my tyre choice was perfect. Unlike yesterday, I had no problems all day. I've got a lot confidence now and I am definitely going to try and catch Petter Solberg in third tomorrow. I think it's possible : this is my big chance."
Dani Sordo/Marc Marti: " The grip seems to change all the time, and the rain we had in the afternoon was as bad as I have ever seen it : just like the Rally of Turkey. I need to remember that the reason why I am here is to gain experience and not to push too hard. Everybody is reminding me of that and it is true. Tomorrow's stages are some of the most difficult of the rally, so I think it will be a big challenge right up to the end. I'm learning a lot, but it's not easy. "
The OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team continues driving on the fast lane at the "Wales Rally GB", the last run to the FIA World Rally Championship 2006. After day two the Austrian OMV duo Manfred Stohl and Ilka Minor lies in sensational second place. Their Norwegian teammates Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud moved up from 14th to twelfth overall place. Now "all" Stohl has to do is to get the top result across the finish line at the last leg on Sunday. And Solberg promises to do his all to score points for the manufacture WRC.
Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor: "It was an extremely difficult day today since on the short special stages one can lose more than one can win. In the end luck was on our side. But there are still four long special stages to go on Sunday. But we should be able to get our lead on Solberg across the finish linge." Currently Ford works driver Marcus Gronholm (Fin) is in the lead."
Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud: "We're far behind, of course. But this only motivates us to try our all to move up even further. Scoring a manufactuer WRC-point would be a nice finale. And obviously a SS best-time would be great, too. The special stages on Sunday should suit us."
BP-Ford World Rally Team drivers Marcus Gronholm and Timo Rautiainen extended their lead during today's second leg of Rally GB. The Finns won five speed tests in the forests of south Wales in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car, and returned to the final overnight halt in Swansea with a 1min 18.8sec advantage in this 16th and final round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen: "I tried to continue pushing this afternoon because I don't want to have to fight hard tomorrow, but the times didn't come so easily. Tomorrow's stages are technically difficult and always very, very slippery and it's not the place where I want to have to push. The weather forecast is bad for tonight, with heavy rain, so it could be a long and hard day."
Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: Retired after damage sustained from accident on Leg One
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford
The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team continued to impress the watching World Rally Championship with a strong run at the head of the field of Rally Great Britain.
Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr: "Today has been better for me. The first two stages were so slippery, they were like ice. There was a thin layer of slime-like mud on the top of the road which caused a few problems. We'd cut the tyre, but we hadn't really opened it up enough to cut through to the surface. Actually, in all of the stages today, when you go under the trees, the grip really changes. There are pine needles and things like that which are down, that's the kind of stuff which changes the condition. Once we're out in the open, the grip is consistent and you can push harder. This afternoon was a bit tricky at times with the rain, the windscreen wipers struggled a little bit to shift all the water from the screen. I'm glad to get through the stages and that's my aim for tomorrow. I know I've done this event twice before, but having never seen these roads in these conditions, it's almost like a new rally."
Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila: "I always knew it was going to be tough to hold on to fourth today, we had [Xevi] Pons getting close to us this morning and he has a lot more experience than me in this kind of car. Of course, I am very happy to be where I am, but I will push for fourth tomorrow. Having said that, if I feel worried about anything, then I will back off - I need the finish. The car has been fantastic again and I feel I am getting more and more confident all of the time. I haven't had any problems with the car set-up, that's probably because I'm using a set-up very similar to the one Marcus Gronholm has - and it clearly works for him."
Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson are still in points-scoring positions after the second leg of Rally GB in south Wales today. Petter and co-driver Phil Mills dropped back from second to third place after clipping a gatepost and damaging their car's steering on SS11. Chris increased his pace during the day and moved up from seventh to sixth place.
Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: "Well obviously we tried a little bit too hard this morning; we chose a new tyre, took a bit of a risk, and unfortunately it didn't quite work out. In the afternoon we tried just to stay in second place, then I turned-in just a few millimetres too early near the end of SS11, hit a pole, broke the steering and I was out of second. The last forest stage wasn't easy but we got through okay, we're still in the competition and that's the main thing. Tomorrow, we'll see. We're in third place now, but a lot can still happen so I'll keep pushing as hard as I can."
Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: "Our day improved after we altered the set-up at the service after SS9. From then on car felt much better, we've gained some more grip and the car is generally more to my liking. On stages 11 and 12 I was able to push much more and we were second fastest on both - we missed out by two-tenths on getting fastest times. Now that I have a better feeling with the car I'm looking to keep the same sort of speed tomorrow."
Red Bull Skoda
On the second day of Wales Rally GB, run in very changeable conditions, Finland's Harri Rovanpera was Red Bull Skoda's sole representative. After Andreas Aigner had rolled his Fabia WRC on SS 5 yesterday, the car was inspected by the mechanics, who diagnosed damage that could not be repaired within the time frame allowed by SupeRally.
Andreas Aigner/Klaus Wicha: "Spectating absolutely isn't my line, I'd rather sit in the car. But unfortunately too much damage was done prior to our roll despite the slow speed at which we hit the tree stump."
Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietilainen: "I had a very decent morning, but far from ideal. The stages were very slippery, I had trouble keeping the car on the road. In the afternoon suddenly I had no more grip, I had too much wheel spin time and again, I don't know why. Hopefully we will solve this in service, so we can try and score points tomorrow."